Preparing Students for an Interactive World

When we birthed the SMARTACUS Creative Group in 2015, we envisioned a student-driven creative agency focused on promoting Upstate New York’s best student startups and powering the region’s Creative Portal, however community leaders defined the site called for by the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy on page 16 of its seminal 2014 report, Leveraging Regional Assets for a Vibrant Future.

It has taken three years, but we’ve laid the groundwork. We’ve trademarked Voice of the Creative Economy. We’ve explored more efficient ways for writers and sources to interact online. We’ve enlisted dozens of content volunteers to tell their stories. We’ve launched this site in Squarespace, a popular content management tool used by many young people to support web-based enterprises.

Now, thanks to Jill Cowburn and her 26 journalism students at Saratoga Springs High School, we’re firing up our content engine in Basecamp, Typeform, and Zoom and putting it to the test in producing 26 full-length profiles of community leaders, innovators, and artists. This is the first iteration of our Practicum in Collaborative Media.

We agree with curriculum designer Marc Prensky when he says that “one of the biggest and most obvious benefits of technology in education is being almost completely overlooked: its empowering of our youth to accomplish huge amounts of desperately needed tasks in the world.”

“Half the people on the planet are under the age of 25, and they are, increasingly, individually and as a group, hugely capable and powerful — and linked to each other in ways which never existed before.”

And so the mission of the SMARTACUS Creative Group is to give students creative, substantive assignments using collaborative media and thereby prepare them to meet the new challenges posed by the new intensely interactive world that our our Information Economy is creating.

We greatly appreciate the participation of the many content volunteers who have come forward to “design think” this venture with us. Having completed our Draft of Community Leaders, Innovators, and Artists yesterday, our Student Writers will soon send out their Story Proposals and the structured five-part interaction between Student Writers and Interview Subjects will begin.