Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Celebrating Current Online Global Projects

This post is long overdue as I have been wanting to write it for more than two weeks! Some very exciting and interesting and creative projects that involve classrooms in 'different and diverse' locations are in progress and I wish to draw your attention to them.

International Teen Life created by Clarence Fisher is an amazing collaboration between classrooms in four global locations (Columbia, USA, Canada and Malaysia). See the teacher planning wiki for more details. I am impressed with the details on the project wiki and love their iTL logo!
As it states on the front wiki page:
The purpose of this project is to have teenagers from different locations around the globe exchange their thoughts and perceptions of what their lives are like. By viewing, reading, and listening to the perspectives of others from around the globe, we hope that you will gain a greater perception of the similarities and differences of people's lives around the world. In this project we want to give you an opportunity to explore issues, and work intensely to gain a clearer understanding of concerns that people have in the world."

Through initial discussion and then careful planning students have teamed together to create wiki pages and videos based on topics of their own choice. The really interesting aspect of this project is how open-ended the topic material has become. Students have had the freedom to construct material and interact according to how they see the world and what they see as important and worth writing and creating material about. It reminds me very much of the excellent work fostered by the iEARN organisation and their 'Learning Circles', supported by the excellent work of Margaret Riel. However, what Clarence and the iTL teachers have done is independently create a circle that is not restricted by a larger organisation's timetable or conditions. This is the potential of the web and new tools, this is the true power of connectivity: Create liaisons independently and foster relationships that you have control over and that you can apply to internal assessment needs. But above all, create opportunities for students to learn about the world in real-life interactions.

The collaborative video as an outcome is a challenge and Clarence posted this on his blog recently, "This was a complex process involving students from four different classes from four different countries on three continents. We are not finished yet. We still have our videos to finish and we still need to make decisions about where we are going to place them. We would like to embed them on our pbwiki pages with all of the kid's work, but we are only allowed 10 mbs. on a free wiki and we have taken that up already."
Some example videos include, Stop Global Warming and Poverty, the Dream to End It.

The Flat Planet Project is an initiative of Neil D'Aguiar from Surrey, UK and Simon O'Carroll from Ontario, Canada.
The aim of the project is for you to use the internet to work together and explore:
- Current Environmental Issues
- The way these issues are being dealt with in the respective countries
- Exploration of any International Agreements on these issues
- The Catholic Moral Responsibility for these issues
This one I know is modelled on the Flat Classroom Project and also includes a multimedia element as a final product. The project has been running for two weeks now and already I can see collaboration in a wiki-centric environment including joint authorship of a wiki page and ongoing discussion via the wiki discussion tab. I look forward to following this one through as the issues and topics being tackled are certainly global in outlook, such as Climate Change, Endangered Species. I like the way this group are also looking at international agreements and taking a very global view of the issues and topics.

Other projects I have blogged about before that you should also be keeping an eye on include:
1001 Flat World Tales Clay Burell
1001 Tales (middle school) Kim Cofino
Developing Expert Voices by Darren Kuropatwa

Finally, you must read this post from Clarence Junior High Teacher Seeks Long Term Relationship where he puts out there a request for collaboration.
As he states:"While I'm not looking for our classrooms to be connected all day, I would like to be connected on a daily basis (might be through blogs, wiki research, a
VOIP call, etc.) on at least one ongoing unit (we would work on a math unit together for awhile, switch to a novel study, then move into a group photography project). I'm looking for a small group of people looking to change what classrooms can be. I want to create a network of people looking to have "thin - walled" classrooms".
Make sure you read the excellent responses to this post as well.

I feel there is a real change in the air in terms of online global collaboration. Teachers have more power to do this themselves and to adapt it their classroom and school needs. With excellent examples already leading the way in terms of structure and use of Web 2.0 tools all it really needs now is motivation and a determination to 'flatten' or thin-out' the classroom walls. All it takes is for teachers to use these connectivity tools to find each other and link in with a common purpose. In some ways less initial structure is best as then the liaison can be moulded and melded as needed.
You must read this excellent post by Kim Cofino (one of the iTL classroom participants as well) '5 Tips for Creating a Global Classroom'.

Do you see a global project on your horizon soon?

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Unknown said...

Thanks for the kind words Julie and thanks for re - posting my call looking for long term collaborative partners. I presume it is pure humility that prevented you from mentioning your own current project which, as usual from you, continues to push the boundaries of possibility in global classrooms.

Darren Draper said...

Excellent post, Julie - and wonderful list of "Flat Planet" links.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to my kids work Julie. Like Clarence said, your kids are also engaged in a pretty exciting collaboration. The size of the project, since the flatclassroom, has really expanded.

It might be interesting, once these projects have all ended, to compare and contrast them all. With all the teachers now pursuing teaching and learning in a global environment some underlying "best practices" are likely to emerge.

Kristin Hokanson said...

Your projects have been SUCH an inspiration to me. Thanks for posting even more resources. I have been able to get one of my teachers to take a small step towards a collaborative project. Would love your take on it:)

Perhaps next year...the world
Thanks for all you do to inspire others!!!!

Langwitches said...

Thank you Julie for this post and call for global collaboration projects.
You ask if there is a global collaboration project on my horizon. YES! My school is on a quest to raise global awareness among our students and will be traveling to Egypt next school year (physically and virtually). I am looking to involve the students even further by creating a collaborative project between us and an elementary school in Egypt or another country that is also studying Egypt.

Anybody interested? Please contact me.

Julie Lindsay said...

It is wonderful to have everyone's comments to my blog post. Such a diversity of ideas but with the common aim of connecting, communicating and creating!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Julie for mentioning a few of the projects my students are working on! Your projects are my inspiration! I am so excited to be part of the Horizon Project - now I get to work with the expert in flat classroom projects :)