Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

History Revisited - a collection of wisdom

SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE: the Collective Wisdom project was held in the Armidale Town Hall in 1966 to demonstrate the way computers and communications technology could be used to boost teaching in the city's many schools
In 1996, Armidale saw a major exhibition in the Town Hall under the banner of the Collective Wisdom Project.

Combining Armidale schools, private and public, primary and secondary, the exhibition showcased the way new computing and communications could aid education. .A key objective was to gain support and funding for a modern communications network linking all Armidale educational institutions that would encourage and showcase collaborative working and in so doing sell Armidale as an education centre.

The exhibition was ambitious in size and scope. School groups gathered in the Town Hall to create web pages. Back at school, others prepared content to be sent to the Town Hall over the phone lines. There was a video link up between the Town Hall and the UNE campus in Sydney.

With support from Martin Levins and The Armidale School, the Town Hall display worked perfectly. However, despite support from a Telstra team who set up the Town Hall links, major communications problems emerged. In the end, disks had to be driven to the Town Hall instead of being sent down the wires.
FROM SLATES TO KEYBOARDS: Students were able to compare the learning styles throughout history
The Collective Wisdom exhibition combined Armidale’s past, present and future.

It was mounted in the dying embers of a local entrepreneurial high technology and professional services boom that had begun in the 1980s. This grew rapidly providing significant employment, and then declined just as sharply under the combined impact of the Keating recession and growing turmoil within the University of New England.

The issues highlighted by Collective Wisdom remain relevant today in the continuing discussion about the NBN and communications, about the role that technology should play in the future of education in Armidale and indeed Armidale’s future as a high technology centre.

Finally, the exhibition used exhibits from the Armidale Museum of Education to highlight the difference between past, present and prospective future.

In my last column, I mentioned that Eric Dunlop first raised the question of what he called his '"Old Time One-Teacher School" museum project' just eight months after returning to the Armidale Teachers’ College in 1949.

With support from College principal G W (Bill Bassett) and the Department, attempts began to identify items that might be included in the proposed museum. One item identified at Inverell was the beehive building of the old Pallamallawalla school.

While the Education Museum slowly evolved, Dunlop turned his mind to a second project. Late in 1953, he went on a nine moth trip to Europe to study, among other things, folk, house and open-air museums across Britain and Scandinavia.

This trip created the idea of a folk museum for Armidale. The net result was that Armidale gained two museums, the Education Museum opened in 1956 centred on the Pallamallawalla school and then, in 1958, the Folk Museum.

Eric Dunlop left Armidale in 1962, leaving a considerable legacy behind.

I will leave the museum story here. Later, I will tell you the stories of other museums established across New England as a consequence of the museum movement. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 6 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

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