Thursday, February 08, 2007

'Expert Voices' fosters blurred boundaries

One of the Flat Classroom Project judges, Darren Kuropatwa, is airing an idea, or rather developing an initiative this past week. He calls it 'Expert Voices'. His ideas include collaboration and breaking down the walls of classrooms. He discusses similar objectives to the Flat Classroom Project in terms of working in groups, producing learning objects, using blogs and wikis and students being able " demonstrate their expertise in the topic and demonstrate it in a format that educates an interested learner."

I really like the direction Darren is taking with this. As he puts it on his A Difference blog:

The boundaries between classrooms blur.

The boundaries between teachers blur.

The boundaries between grades blur.

The boundaries between students blur.

Learning crystallizes.

Darren has set up a wiki for Expert Voices and is inviting classrooms around the world to offer concrete proposals for ideas of how and when to connect students studying related content.

Providing resources and facilities for teachers to find each other around the world is not a new idea. We need to step back a little and reflect on the success that initiatives such as the Global SchoolNet Foundation with the Global SchoolhouseInternational School's Cyberfair, or the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) with their global Learning Circle classroom program amongst other programs.

The availability of Web 2.0 tools coupled with increased bandwidth and new online liaisons amongst educators is continuing to bounce many new ideas around. However the organisations that have for a long time now been encouraging collaboration and multicultural projects continue to have a lot to teach us in instructional design, project outcomes and teacher preparation. Darren mentions rubric development and I know he has been working on best practice rubric models just as Vicki and I have for our project. The Cyberfair project, now in its 12th year, offers a Peer review rubric that is worth more than a casual glance. Furthermore it is advantageous to all to integrate Web 2.0 read and write ideals into student collaborations to facilitate the learning and the communication.

OK, I fully support Darren with his 'Expert Voices' ideas and am floating this idea today. I have a Grade 10 Digital Storytelling class. About 17 students work for a 12 week unit to produce a digital story. My course is based on the excellent work of Bernajean Porter. Last year I started a blog to display the best digital stories. I have not added any new stories to the online blog yet this year...but I will! I have a new class (my third set of students for the year as we rotate 3 classes through 3 units) starting in about 4 weeks. Is there anyone out there, any other teacher with a class creating digital stories or studying multimedia or wanting to integrate multimedia and student-centred learning, willing to collaborate?

I see this as an excellent opportunity for students to join a partner from a different global location, with a different cultural background and create a digital story together! Imagine the sheer power of that story with 2 or more people adding content and creativity! My unit is for a Technology/ICT class focussing on using the Design Cycle therefore I am not restricted by content as such. I can join with a mathematics class, a history class......the imagination takes off. What I do look at is the student being able to put something of themselves into the story and to personally narrate it, amongst other criteria for impact, design etc.

I look forward to hearing from any interested collaborators. I encourage you to also keep watching for Darren's further development of 'Expert Voices'.

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