Sandbox Committee of Van Pelt College House - Its Work toward a Model Virtual Collegiate Community

We are at Van Pelt College House experimenting with ways in which to augment the residential community with new forms of academic undergraduate experience. Our Sandbox Committee consists of 20 students most keenly interested in pushing the limits of actual community and testing the possibilities of virtual community--through educational applications of computing technology and new media. We think we've already seen success in certain areas of College House programming (I mean success discerned even by traditional measures): better and faster communication, fuller levels of student participation in House-based academic projects, lower levels of routine misunderstanding, leaner (and less expensive) administrative apparatus, etc.

We are now keen to take the experiment to the next step. To do this we need a few peripherals. We have, for one thing, Penn's only residence-based weekly webzine (the Van Peltian) but literally no means of producing and then scanning images in the House! We want in general to conceive of learning as created in and by "loft space"--both as an educational metaphor (the studio concept replacing or adding to the classroom concept) and as a physical actuality.

We have gone to great lengths to set aside a room--VPCH 107--as a work-space, an office space (it had been a residential single). This room is now intended for use by the Sandbox Committee activists (and others), and so we have what most at Penn lack: the physical space in which to promote student-based innovation. Now we need a few not-very-expensive items, presented below, ranked in order of priority.

- 2 600 dpi color scanners

- hand-held MAC digital camera & appropriate software

- a new Windows/PC machine (at the moment we have a hand-me-down Dell, given to use by APR, which works about 1 time out of every 10 attempts)

- a 21" monitor for an already existing machine in the House

- Adobe Photoshop 3.0 w/ KAI's Power Tool Extension

- an LCD panel and overhead projector (for the purpose, of course, of teaching groups by throwing computer-screen image on a wall)

- speakers, sound-card and software