McAllen, Texas- Susan Neal Zwerling, IMAS Director of Education and Public Programs, has been awarded a summer internship position with the Smithsonian Institution EdLab’s first ever “Mission: Possible” project Washington, D.C.. The Smithsonian Institution’s EdLab is a program dedicated to changing learning through experimentation, evaluation, and dissemination of new media practices. The Smithsonian Institution has also generously invited IMAS to choose another member from their Education Department to experience the same internship at a later point this summer. IMAS has chosen Museum Guide, Lorena Balli, to fly to the nation’s capital and take part of the second part EdLab’s “Mission: Possible” program from July 21 – August 3, 2012.
Starting on July 7, 2012, for two weeks, Ms. Zwerling will be working alongside the nation’s top “Teachers of the Year” to create curriculum that advocates digital literacy. Additionally, she will be a contributing writer for the EdLab blog, and develop a workshop that will aid in transforming museums into “challenge-based, exploratory learning environments through digital media.” During her two-week internship, Susan Neal Zwerling will be working with the Pearson’s Foundation Model Classroom Project to increase student engagement by making learning a challenge to solve with digital media and technology tools. The news comes one month after the Board of Directors from the McAllen Independent School District approved High School 1:1 iPad Initiative which plans to distribute iPads to all McAllen high school students the fall of 2012, demonstrating that national initiatives are happening locally at multiple levels of the community.
As to why Ms. Zwerling and IMAS were chosen for this newly designed program, Jeff Meade, the Mobile Learning Program Lead at EdLab, explains, “We chose IMAS because of their interest in being an active community partner. Their education program is about making the museum relevant to their community need…IMAS has embraced the mantra of creating museums with our visitors, not just for them…EdLab is a philosophy of “learning everywhere”, and we feel IMAS is a great museum partner to work with in developing distance programming.”
Upon completion of these internships at Washington, D.C., IMAS staff will later conduct an EdLab-inspired workshop for Valley teachers interested in implementing digital media into their classroom. Additionally, a partnership program supported by Youth Access Research and Planning intends to create a sustainable distance relationship with IMAS that can be expanded and applied to other Smithsonian Affiliate Museums through 2014.