Last March, when I was in Chicago for the Museums and the Web conference, I ran around the city to meet with my colleagues in museums and libraries who were willing to share their youth spaces and how they’ve been designed to support digital learning. My first post offered a rapid tour of your spaces around the city. The second was my first of three related posts that highlight interviews with staff from those locations. Our first stop was the Field Museum (re: Morphing a Digital Classroom into a Museum Hangout: An Interview with Eve Gaus of the Field Museum). Now, for the next stop: Art Institute of Chicago!
Hi Hillary. Please introduce yourself.
My name is Hillary Cook. I work at the Art Institute of Chicago and I’m the Assistant Director of Youth Programs. I design, manage, and implement all of our programs for teenagers, specifically the one’s that happen in out-of-school time.
How many students come through these programs?
We serve about 2,000 to 2,500 young people throughout the year. We have workshops that we do throughout the entire year, a Teen Council Leadership program, and all other kinds of associated events and initiatives that happen around that.
And where are we sitting right now?
We are in one of the large studio spaces in our Ryan Education Center. The new Center opened in 2009 with the opening of the modern wing.
What did that mean for you and your work?
We were really excited and happy to be able to double our education center footprint. We went from having kind of one large studio space to having three huge studios with beautiful natural light, plus five classrooms, a new educator resource center, and a Family Room space, as well as a small interpretive exhibition space.
What role does digital media play within each of these spaces?
It was really thought of from the beginning, in terms of design, so every space has the capability for digital presentation. We’re also thinking a lot about other ways that digital media can be used in programs. We have a suite of laptops that we use in our education programs. We have cameras and iPod Touches. The idea is that in any program where we wanted to use digital media as a tool for art making, or creative expression, or as a way to facilitate other kinds of learning, we have the resources available for us. Continue reading