Wednesday, October 08, 2008

David Macaulay Webcast

Yesterday the Lawrence School Library tuned in to a webcast sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Company. Award-winning book creator David Macaulay talked, in a real-time presentation, about his newest book The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body to students around the country -- and presumably the world. Our fifth and sixth graders, who use Macaulay's books (Castle, City, Pyramid and others) in their curricula, packed together in the library. Several students volunteered to be reporters, recording the Who-What-Where-When-Why-How of the webcast. Salient observations were how totally immersed Macaulay becomes in doing the research for each of his books and also how much he feels he needs to learn about each topic, given that he starts off as a layperson related to that topic. The point of view of a beginner provides him an incentive to be very clear in words and illustrations, so that readers can join him in understanding the complexities of his subject.

At times the webcast was pixelated or the sound jumpy -- no surprise given that many, many schools were viewing the site at the same time. We learned that we still need to be patient with this kind of digital delivery, that is is different from viewing a previousy-downloaded document. The potential for on-the-spot learning experiences is tremendous, however, and we hope to try it again soon!