Edge Project Report: Bringing Disruptive Innovation Into Museums

The Edge Project was an initiative of Global Kids, Inc. (where I worked from 2000 until just recently) funded by the MacArthur Foundation. I developed and supervised this two year project, which aimed to expand the capacity of civic and cultural institutions to use digital media as innovative educational platforms that engage youth in learning and promote youth civic participation. A new report was just released, which I will introduce in this post then explore down the road in more detail in additional posts.

The Edge Project was interested in civic and cultural institutions bringing cutting-edge digital media into their youth educational programs. It was equally interested in where this type of programming can be a disruptive force challenging the educators and/or the institutional cultural to work on the edge of their comfort level.

At the end of the day, we wanted to better understand the following question: How do institutions find their balance working on this edge?

Global Kids’ Edge Projects explored this and other questions over two years (2009-2011) through a series of short-term educational programs developed and implemented in partnership with a variety of national civic and cultural institutions that are exemplars within their communities of practice:

  • The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (Charlotte, NC)
  • Dane County Jail (Madison, WI)
  • The Field Museum (Chicago, IL)
  • Jail North (Charlotte, NC)
  • Madison Public Library (Madison, WI)
  • MOUSE (NY, NY)
  • The Museum For African Art (NY, NY)
  • The New York Public Library (NY, NY)
  • The Noguchi Museum (NY, NY)
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, D.C.)

The new report offers the following:

  • An introduction to the key ideas behind the Edge Projects
  • A brief summary of the projects
  • An In-depth looks into three of the projects:
    • Leveraging Digital Media to Create a Participatory Learning Culture Among Incarcerated Youth
    • How Using Social Media Forced a Library to Work on the Edge in Their Efforts to Move Youth From “Hanging Out” to “Messing Around”
    • Digital Media and Learning at The Noguchi Museum: Introducing 21st Century Technology into a 20th Century Space
  • An Appendix offering background information

In future posts I will explain the ideas behind what makes an Edge Project, share lessons learned, and focus on one particular project within a museum.

Until then, please feel free to download and read the report from here: Global Kids’ Edge Projects Report

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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