No Torture Here! – Acquisition, participation and creation

I am very proud of our students. They are creative, hard working and willing to learn. You can locate them to the three dimensions of attitudes towards learning, but in most cases they are able to stay in the middle road.

This semester I was co-coordinating and co-teaching New media and the third sector – concepts for Amnesty International Finland -study project. The aim of the project was to study and practice (1) contextual inquiry – get familiar with the inside logic of the third sector and its organizations; and (2) design and development of new media concepts that would meet the needs of the customer(s). The blog of the study project documents nicely the process.

The final result of the study project is actually a bit more than what we expected. Students’ idea to combine offline and online activism – and use of Web 2-0 tool in it – end-up to be a real Amnesty campaign. The theme and the slogan “No Torture Here!” is now also the Amnesty Finland’s summer campaign, that will be visible in number of events around the country, such as the Genesis’ concert next week in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.

No torture here bete website is now up and running.

The idea is simple: Your task is to declare a location to be torture free. At first you download and print the “No Torture Here” flag. Then you go to some location, plant your flag and take a picture or video of the event. Back in your computer you upload your picture and video to flickr, youtube (or where ever), come back to the No torture here site and locate your flag to the Google map in the site.

I really like the end-result. It is an innovative solution to the customer’s needs. It has its roots in the Amnesty’s tradition of making people to take action against human rights violations. It makes you think global and act local. It combines offline and online activism. It helps not that technology savvy people to learn a bit about online culture and drives people sitting full days in front of their computers to go out! Finally, it was done with close to zero budget, which is of course important for NGOs.

Still, as a teacher of the study project, I want to emphasise the process rather than the end product of the project. We can see that students were working simultaneously in thee modes of learning: acquisition, participation and creation.

Knowledge acquisition. During the study project students really got to know how NGO’s work: What is the motivation of their members? Why they do things the way they do them? This part of the work was very much information acquisition. Students got to know the Amnesty, its aims and objective, and several people who are very active in it.

Participation. As part of the information acquisition students participated in some Amnesty events. Based on the observations students made a portrait / persona of an Amnesty activist. Also the people working in the Amnesty office of Finland were explaining their thoughts about the organization, ways of working in the organization, future plans etc. Several key people from the Amnesty participated in the concept design phase and to the development of the final product.

Knowledge Creation. In addition to the acquisition and participation – or should I say based on them (this would be the “scientific story”) – students really build some new knowledge: they applied their existing knowledge of web 2.0 (and also learned a lot new stuff about the topic) with the information they got from the customer (Amnesty). They were able to learn meta-skills: contextual inquiry and ways to work with a customer (methodological things), and a lot about design process (more methodological things). All this was possible because students were doing some real concept design.

I hope you’ll add your flag to the site.Now it is your trun to be creative.

Even more I hope that the campaign will get the Finnish Government’s and the US regime’s addition. The results of the campaign will be presented by Amnesty International Finland to the Finnish Prime Minister and US Embassy in Finland.

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