Fellow ADE in Crime Bruce Ahlborn and I are currently teaching the first podcasting workshop at National Louis University. We're working with about fifteen graduate students and we decided to take an impromptu field trip up Michigan Avenue on Saturday. Last week, by pure luck, I had noticed that the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus was going to be making a stop at the North Michigan Avenue Apple Store. This bus is a fully equipped mobile recording studio and three staff members conduct classes for kids aboard this amazing vehicle. Essentially, when a class is held, 8 kids from various walks of life take part. No musical background is necessary, but by the end of the 8 hour day, the group has produced an original music piece and accompanying music video and burned it to CD and DVD. There are various video podcasts posted in the iTunes music store related to the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Videos produced by students are also in Apple's Student Gallery.
Also, the bus is involved with battles of the band all over the country and regularly follows a well known musical group on tour. This year it is the Black Eyed Peas who played at the Aragon ballroom in Chicago Saturday night. Apparently, the group's leader, Will I Am, regularly uses the bus to record songs when he is not performing and classes aren't being held in the bus.
Three young sound engineers/musicians live on the bus, take care of day to day operations, and teach the classes. This is a 10 month gig for them and I was suprised that they actually lived on the bus because every inch of space seems devoted to music and video production. I should have taken a picture of where they sleep because I honestly have no idea how the guys fit into these cubby like holes in the wall. Anyway, the two guys that spoke with us were fabulous and so generous with their time. They clearly love what they do and are having the times of their lives.
If only there were more such buses around... this is the only such educational bus in the world. It's sort of like the concept of libraries on wheels. If people can't come to the library, you bring the books to them. I could see mobile computing facilities doing outreach work in innercity neighbhorhoods easily. Digital tools could really empower people to make important changes. This sort of thinking outside the box is really needed because the arts and technology budgets in schools are seen as "extras" and of course, we all know that they are essential to a quality education.
All in all, I had a fabulous time with my students and Bruce on Saturday. I'm looking forward to wrapping up our workshop next weekend!