Edit-a-thon Part One

Once students have completed their school research, they can begin to assemble their first bin of content that will be sent from space. Students will have to triage their bin size (no more than 1 MB) - how much for education? How much for music? Send one video on Malaria or ten PDFs?


What students will learn

1. The most important aspects of a library.
2. How to organize information based on a defined set of priorities.


Lesson topics

This was a really engaging exercise when I ran it at our Mozilla edit-a-thon in Kampala, Uganda with college students and adults and then again when I did it during the Project Empathy pilot with 7th graders at GEMS World Academy.

Instead of focusing on the bin that the students will eventually send, have them look at the entire Project Empathy system. In other words, instead of being a reporter thinking about just his/her article, step back and think about the entire newspaper. Here’s how:

Project Empathy (using Outernet’s system) delivers 20 MB of content per day. The maximum size for a bin of content (remember, a bin is just a collection of files - the students will be making [at least] one) that can be sent at a time is 1 MB, which means that only 20 bins can be sent in a day. Now, have the students imagine: if they could control an entire week of content being sent to the entire world, what topics would they pick? This means triaging 100 bins across different genres. Conveniently, this also allows for an easy percentage comparison of what should be in a library or on their Golden Records. You could even have them go to their school library and count the bookshelves in each section to see if the library is similar in its composition to what they create in this exercise.

What we did was break students into groups and have each group start brainstorming how they would allocate those bins. Three different types of content arise from this brainstorming:

  •     Specific content: Shakespeare, basic First Aid guide, a week of the New York Times, etc.
  •     Content type: ebooks, videos, songs, games, etc.
  •     Content genres: Health, Education, Entertainment, etc.

After students have finished brainstorming, bring them back together and share their ideas. Begin to divide these ideas into the above categories and then see if any major Content Genres are missing. Popular genres are:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Arts/Culture
  • News/Current Events
  • Entertainment
  • Agriculture and Fishing
  • Small Business
  • Instructions/DIY
  • Many more...

Students should then be tasked with finding at least one of each content type for each one of these genres. We had each group take on a genre and the students divide responsibility for the different content formats, which was done as homework.



If you have additional materials that you think would add to this curriculum, please write to me, thane@projectempathy.co. This is a collaborative project and we hope that, through more participation, we can make it even better.