While in my home town, Melbourne, Australia I caught up with Dr John Turner, Head of IT at PLC (Presbyterian Ladies College). John and I have been collaborating and joining our students from Melbourne to Bangladesh for the past 3 years. For a couple of years we joined for online, virtual debating and shared podcasts and vodcasts. In the past year John's Grade 10 IT class were members of the Horizon Project.
The podcasts below are edited cuts from our one-hour discussion. They are a little rough but I think very interesting, especially for readers who are keen to know more about the practicalities of integrating Web 2.0 tools into the classroom and also of embarking on a flat classroom or horizon project in the future.
Discussion Part 1
Discussion about access to Web 2.0 tools. Touches on constructivist vs controlled education and issues with blocked websites in Victorian schools. John says if we can get the educational edge on a web tool then it becomes easier to justify its use as a learning tool.
Discussion Part 2
Using Twitter in the classroom and linking it in with iGoogle. Having a 'window' web page for RSS feeds that incorporates feeds from the wiki, the Ning and Twitter.
Discussion Part 3
Comments about the Horizon Project including issues for students and teachers. John made the point that apart from Web 2.0 tool use students were confronted with personal issues of getting along with others and having to find strategies of working with others who they are communicating with but will never meet face to face.
Discussion Part 4
The use of Elluminate as a tool for communication and collaboration and the potential for K-12 education. The issues raised include the sustainability of whiteboards, laptops and change as an ongoing process and the advantage of 'free' Web 2.0 tools.
Discussion Part 5
Flat Classroom/Horizon Project ideal time frame and ideas for administration.
Discussion Part 6
Women in IT survey and discussion. The interest of the girls at PLC was influenced into IT by what they did through the Horizon Project.
Discussion Part 7
The potential of research and the credibility of the Flat Clasroom Project. The objective of the research is to determine what the requirements of the project are and what the value is. Research is needed to be able to confirm the viability of the educational structure, package a sustainable structure. Political influence is then needed for incorporation of 'the package'. In a qualitative action research mode. Plan, try, collect, evaluate and do it again...in a constant rate of change. Research needs to simplify the process so it not so hard to be involved for other teachers.
John's comments re advantages of doing the Horizon Project:
- Forced him and his students to learn more about Web 2.0 technology
- Was the catalyst to integration of Web 2.0 tools into the curriculum at different year levels (Ning, Twitter, wiki's)
- Raised the awareness of the administration in his school of the value of online learning and Web 2.0 tools (including Elluminate) for collaboration
- Influenced students into looking at IT as a career path
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