I've always believed that Australia's ABC, including its television network, its national and regional radio network, and its online presence is a true Australian treasure. But today I discovered another of its projects that proves its value and worth once again.
I like a lot of things about ABC Open
. I live in regional Australia and sometimes get frustrated about how easy it is to overlook regional Australians and people in the bush. I know, I know, there aren't as many of us to represent compared to metropolitan centres like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. And I also accept that Australia is now an urbanised country and the days of the idealised "bush", as portrayed by iconic Australian writers, such as A. B. (Banjo) Paterson and Henry Lawson, are long gone. But, if you want to see me really get on my high horse, sit down with me while we watch what I see as "citified" versions of television shows or movies featuring country characters and settings.
VERY poorly scripted stereotypes – ugh! Rant, rant, rave rave, hissy-fit-eye-rolling, finishing with a little foot stomp.... Anyway
, returning to topic...
ABC Open is really, really good because it gives a voice to the experiences of everyday people living in regional Australia. What makes it really special and how it achieves its authenticity is that it is regional Australians who are creating, publishing, and producing their own stories in various digital formats, including video, audio slideshow, and photographic narratives.
There are a number of projects featured on ABC Open. Some are open to anybody in Australia to participate, some focus on particular regions, some are completed (and these can be browsed online) and some are still ongoing. You'll find the deadlines shown on the website.
As a teacher, I can see a lot of uses for this project by the ABC. I really like the collaborative aspect; anyone can contribute ideas for projects and stories. In addition, the project’s producers offer to encourage participation by conducting workshops – online and off, to build skills. Their instructions are also given in an easy-to-understand step-by-step format; even beginners could make a video and upload it following these instructions.
I also like that some projects are specifically aimed at youth. While there are not necessarily any age restrictions on any of the open projects, some focus on content that reflects the experience of young adults. For example, the "Somewhere in Between
" regional project is encouraging teenagers living on New South Wales' Eurobodalla coast to tell their own stories about the stage of life between childhood and adulthood – and are being supported in doing so through workshops teaching skills in digital storytelling.
And, in a project being conducted in regional Victoria, young musicians are being taught skills in music video production, while being given the opportunity to share their music with a wider audience.
So here’s my ‘this is cool’ list thus far..
- It’s giving a voice to Australians who DON’T live in the city.
- It’s completely collaborative – not only can anyone submit ideas for projects, as well as their own work, but ABC Open makes use of many of the web’s collaborative tools, including Facebook, Twitter, videos which can be shared by embedding, and websites such as Flickr and Vimeo are used to house ‘communities’ of people and their work involved in these projects.
- It teaches digital skills.
But I can also see other uses as a teacher. Many of the contributions would be great texts to use when discussing various themes and Areas of Study, such as Belonging, Change, Journeys, social issues and identity. Not only could these texts be used as examples of these focus areas, but there is also great scope to use many as creative response prompts.
Have a look for yourself. Click here
to browse the site. And if you think of any other creative way of using these resources please pass them on by commenting after this post.