Young Macdonald's Farm


The Ocean of Know is a not-for-profit educational initiative that has accepted the technological challenges of 21st Century learning. It brings together a multi-talented and multi-disciplinary partnership of educators, artists, scientists, engineers, and technologists, establishing a unique knowing environment which will effectively exploit the full range of today's interactive information technologies. This group was formed in a shared concern: to provide dynamic access to vast amounts of information in education settings increasingly reliant on the relationship between learning and technology.

Our belief is that students and teachers must undergo fundamental alterations in the way they assimilate and think about information and to create both robust interfaces and applicable curricula to address learning in the porous environment of the electronic classroom. This transition demands awareness of a wide range of histories, resources, implementations, and, most importantly, strategies of integration to address a knowledge 'ecosystem' no longer bound to traditions of rote learning. passive experimentation, or limited resources.

The most significant challenges are to provide dynamic tools for navigation, relevant means for extended research, and meaningful interactions with both linked communities (including scientists, educators, and artists) and direct experiences of consequential interventions into operative learning. In a real sense we must understand --and convey-- what we call "metainformation." Metainformation can be thought of as information linked in an evolving system where access, retrieval and deployment can be performed in on-going and responsible ways. To achieve this kind of unifying approach, we are actively effecting the development of both functioning and experimental research into media literacy, relational learning, hybrid classrooms, and active educational discourse to develop what in increasingly referred to as 'inter standing,' the interdependence between interaction and understanding.

It is Oceans' goal to bring the concepts of 'metainformation' and 'inter standing' into mainstream learning through the development, distribution and implementation of networked implementations that link students and teachers to the Oceans of vast information in cyberspace in ways that enrich understanding, provoke the imagination, and demonstrate that communication technology can be utilized in the development of dynamic collaborative environments.

Since its inception in 1992, The Ocean of Know has worked with Mote Marine Laboratories, the New York Public school system, (ADD OTHERS), to put into place curricula and access for the development of science education. Working hand-in-hand with Bell Atlantic, (ADD OTHERS), we evolved a tiered strategy utilizing video teleconferencing and the world wide web to provide contexts in which science education was less analytical than synthetic, more participatory than observational. From this, and recognizing the need for more autonomous testbeds, we are completing work on a small-scale but fully functional agricultural/aqua cultural project, Young McDonald's Farm. Young McDonald's Farm is an extension of the science learning model we developed for marine biology. In collaboration with Bell Atlantic, The Ocean of Know has secured a small farm in upstate New York, and is in the process of initiating a program in which students can join in a networked project to understand, monitor, and ultimately be responsible for maintaining sustainable agriculture, plant ecology, animal husbandry, and the environmental consequences of farming.

The ultimate mission of The Ocean of Know is to provide an interface into the experience of science in an era of telecommunications. Our work in the development of learning tools, on-line curricula, access to resources, and direct video conferencing links with working scientists has demonstrated that distance learning is a dynamic and functional component in education. Our continuing research into on-line-learning provides both a discursive and multi-disciplinary experiment and a no-holds-barred, hands-on intervention into the materialities of communication and the very real practices destined to be the foundation of education in the 21st century.

Daniel P McVeigh