Thursday, April 09, 2009

Student Summits: An opportunity to connect globally

Another Flat Classroom Project is almost finished, flatclassroom09-1 included classrooms from USA, Qatar, Germany and Oman.
Judges are currently reviewing the multimedia, as found on the Master List, under topics such as Connecting the World Online, and Virtual Communication, and other 'flatteners' found in Friedman's book, The World is Flat.

A recent highlight were the three student summits held over the past week. As a culmination to the project, classrooms are invited to schedule virtual presentations within Elluminate. These sessions ran for about 45 minutes. They provided an opportunity for students to talk about their work during the project, based on their team and topic. They also provide a virtual learning experience and real-time interaction with an international audience on a professional level. In other words, they flattened the walls of the classroom by inviting the world in and providing a platform for students to present and share their knowledge and to learn valuable digital citizenship lessons.

Students prepare an image, a collage of their experience in the project, and speak for 2-3 minutes, with an opportunity to answer questions and interact with the global audience afterwards.

Of special mention is the joint summit presented by students in Germany and Oman, with teachers Torsten Otto and Salim Al Busaidi leading the way for cultural understanding. Both classes were second language English, both had not presented in this way before, and both were a little nervous! However, due to excellent rehearsal a sense of occasion, the students did an outstanding job, as shown by the recording of the session.

The Qatar session recording and the USA session recording, with teachers Ray Jones and Suzie Nestico are also available.

One interesting theme that emerged this round of summits is how alienating online asynchronous learning can be, and how students who are new to this mode of learning find it difficult to make a real connection with their team members. As teachers we are often too quick to assume that the Net Generation are fluent in online communication. This is not the case, and it is our responsibility to provide opportunities to gain skills in asynchronous tools. At the same time, the opportunity also to 'meet' other students within a virtual classroom such as Elluminate comes towards breaking down that alienation and putting a 'voice' and a 'face' to the name in real-time. We are looking into this for future Flat Classroom projects and hope to be able to connect students throughout the projects more often, rather than only at the end for the final summit.....we are only limited by our imagination...of, and of course time zones!

Here is a Bubbleshare of some of the collages:
BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

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