Thursday, October 29, 2009

The World is Open: or is it Flat?

Our keynote speaker for the Flat Classroom Project 2009-3 is Curtis Bonk, author of 'The World is Open'. We are delighted that Flat Classroom Projects are featured in this book and doubly delighted that Curtis agreed to present the keynote this session.

So here is:
Curt Bonk's Flat Classrooms Keynote: The World is Open: Introducing the Heroes, Gurus, and Revolutionaries of the Shared Internet

Students around the world participating in the Flat Classroom Project this time have contributed their thoughts and questions on the keynote via the Ning discussion forum.

From Miller at WHS, "In this video, Dr. Bonk discusses his ideas on how the world is changing through technology. The most important key trend about Dr. Bonk's video is the idea of the world becoming open. This disagrees with Thomas Friedman's idea of the world becoming flat. He shares some similarities with Mr. Friedman by addressing that their are ten openers of the world, similar to the ten flatteners in Mr. Friedman's book. Dr. Bonk talks about many people who have shaped the technological world, and how they have done it. I would like to ask Mr. Bonk about how he classified the people he chose. What certain criteria did he go by in selecting the individuals that he chose?"

From Nevil at AHS, "The most important trend that Dr. Bonk discusses is how the online tools have become the new form of creativity and learning. Also, some of the online sources are free for the people to use. His views are very similar to Thomas Friedman’s views. For example, they both think that the web has become the new form of creativity, and it has change the way of learning. Many people around the world are collaborating (and sharing) their opinions on these great online tools. However, Friedman talks more about the flatteners, and how they have affected the world. On the other hand, Dr. Bonk talks about the openers, which are the different ways of learning. I have one question for Mr. Bonk:

How does flatteners differ from openers? Are they similar?"

In addition, recently Curtis was with Don Tapscott, author of 'Wikinomics' and 'Grown Up Digital' and collaborator with Vicki Davis and myself on the NetGenEd Project run last February to April. Here is a short video of them speaking about the flat classroom and changes in education.

So, what do you think? Is the world open? Is it flat? Is it under the influence of 'disruptive technologies' (Tapscott) such as wikis, such that education and the way we learn will never be the same?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Press Release: Digiteen Project 2009-3

The Digiteen Project 2009

For Immediate Release - October 26, 2009

Beijing, China and Camilla, GA USA

"Digital Citizenship is understanding effective, safe behaviors online that consider long term consequences and give students a method for understanding how to make decisions as new technologies and trends emerge at lighting speed," says Vicki Davis, classroom teacher and co founder of the Digiteen project, a global collaborative project that has now harnessed the power of over 1,000 students from many countries. "Few things are more important than teaching students about effective behaviors online for the protection of them now and in the future."

"We are proud to announce the formation of the fifth Digiteen project, (a Flat Classroom™ project) and the third Digiteen project of 2009," says Julie Lindsay, international educator, e-learning co-ordinator and co-founder of the Digiteen project. "We are finally reaching a point in education where educators around the world are learning that digital citizenship, because of its very nature cannot be taught from a textbook but should be taught from actually participating in global educational networks that merge classrooms to explore the topics and experience first hand all aspects of digital citizenship and cyber safety." These schools represent more than 255 students, from 7 countries, and will run from October - December, 2009. Students will collaborate together on a group wiki and a Ning in a safe, educational network where students can communicate and share about digital citizenship.

The Digiteen Project is a global hands-on project for middle and early high school students which was founded by Julie Lindsay (Beijing, China) and Vicki Davis (Camilla, GA USA) in 2008. This project studies digital citizenship with students researching current topics, writing a collaborative report on a wiki, and performing and documenting offline action educational projects to promote effective digital citizenship at their local schools. Topics of study include digital: access, communications, literacy, security and safety, etiquette, rights and responsibilities, law, health and wellness, and commerce.

"The most unique aspect of this project," says Lindsay, "is that it requires action on behalf of the participants at their local schools and this has been done in a variety of ways from holding school assemblies to the creation of whole virtual worlds for teaching students about digital citizenship. The responses to the need for digital citizenship education are as varied as the students themselves."

With the purpose of the project is to promote effective Digital Citizenship and responsible online choices, a variety of resources are accessed including the book 'Digital Citizenship' by Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey and the introductory video Series Growing Up Online by PBS.

This year's classrooms include (in alphabetical order by country.)

Edwina Neyland

James Cook Boys Technology High School
Sydney, Australia


Phil Macoun
Aspengrove School
Nanaimo, BC


Julie Lindsay
Beijing International School
Beijing, China


Andreas Christodoulou and Ray Jones
Qatar Academy
Doha, Qatar

United States

Aram Kabodian
MacDonald Middle School
East Lansing, MI

Anne Macdonald
Falmouth Middle School
Falmouth, ME

Pam Murphy
Long Cane Middle School
LaGrange, GA

Vicki Davis
Westwood Schools
Camilla, GA

Lindsay and Davis also co-plan and manage the Flat Classroom Project and the Horizon ProjectNetGenEd Project. On November 1st they will be launching a new global project called Eracism that involves middle school students in a global debating event with finals being held in a virtual world later in December. Last January they held the inaugural face to face Flat Classroom Conference in Doha, Qatar sponsored by HSBC bank and Qatar Academy. The next Flat Classroom Workshop and mini-conference will be held in Mumbai February 2010 at ASB Unplugged. Schools are invited to apply for scholarships to attend by October 31, 2009.

More information about the Digiteen Project 09-3. In addition review all projects and educational networks linked from the Flat Classroom Project website.
Contact us at

Monday, October 26, 2009

Press Release: Flat Classroom™ Project 2009-3

The Flat Classroom™ Project 2009

For Immediate Release - October 26, 2009
Beijing, China and Camilla, GA USA

The organizers of the Flat Classroom™ project are excited to announce the selection of the 10 participating classrooms for the 2009 project. These schools represent more than 200 students, from 5 countries, and will run from October - December, 2009.

The Flat Classroom™ Project is a global Hands-on project for senior high school students which was founded by Julie Lindsay (Beijing, China) and Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, Georgia, USA) in 2006 and is now sponsored by Elluminate. This project has won ISTE's Online Learning Award (2007) and included in Thomas Friedman's book, the World is Flat, upon which the project is based. Students will research trends in information technology and globalization, write a collaborative research report, and produce digital videos about their topics.
This year's keynote address to students is delivered via a youtube video (cross posted to Ning) by Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, and author of The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education (2009). Dr. Bonk says, "After reading about the Flat Classrooms Project, browsing through the website, and ultimately writing about it in my book, it is a fantastic experience to actually become part of it. The real irony, however, is that a project which analyzes books on the present and future state of business, economics, technology, and education has also become part of them. That is symbolic of the twenty-first century educational experience."

This year's classrooms include (in alphabetical order by country.)


Anne Mirtschin*
Hawkesdale P12 College
Hawkesdale, Australia

Julie Lindsay*
Beijing (BISS) International School
Beijing, China

International School Dusseldorf


Ray Jones*

Qatar Academy
Doha, Qatar

United States

Brian McLaughlin
Academy of Allied Health & Science
Neptune, NJ

Eric Chamberlin
Carrabassett Valley Academy
Carrabassett Valley, ME

Fred Haas
Hopkinton High School
Hopkinton, MA

Jerry Swiatek
Citrus High School
Inverness, FL

Estie Cuellar*
Spring Woods High School
Houston, TX

Vicki Davis*
Westwood Schools
Camilla, GA

*Project "veterans" - these schools have participated in a previous project.

The project also involves Peer Review Classrooms (Sounding Boards) and any interested teacher is invited to sign up for this Group on the Flat Classrooms educators NIng. Expert Advisors have been sought to advise the students during the project. Judges will be involved at the end of the project to review student work and provide feedback for a Global Awards summit to be held in Elluminate at the conclusion of the project.

"We believe that we are building communication bridges today that the students of tomorrow will walk across," say Davis and Lindsay, the project's co-organizers. "This project is ambitious, however, its success is built upon the fact that the teachers and classrooms that participate are of quality global caliber and have high standards of excellence. We bridge cultural, religious, and public and private boundaries and are always excited to see the students thrive and succeed in this environment. Our world is global and our classrooms should be too!"

Lindsay and Davis also co-plan and manage the Digiteen Project (digital citizenship for middle and early high school students) and the Horizon Project and NetGenEd Project. On November 1st they will be launching a new global project called Eracism that involves middle school students in a global debating event with finals being held in a virtual world later in December. Last January they held the inaugural face to face Flat Classroom Conference in Doha, Qatar sponsored by HSBC bank and Qatar Academy. The next Flat Classroom Workshop and mini-conference will be held in Mumbai February 2010 at ASB Unplugged. Schools are invited to apply for scholarships to attend and bring up to 6 students and 2 teachers to be part of the action-based workshop (applications close October 31, 2009).

More information about the Flat Classroom Project 09-3. In addition review all projects and educational networks linked from the Flat Classroom Project website.
Contact us at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

V-BISS Day: Virtual, Visible and Vocal

What happens in a school when it has to close? How can the learning continue? How can teachers communicate with each other? How can they communicate with their students? How do school systems manage to function?
These essential questions (and more) we have been asking ourselves at BISS (Beijing International School) since the start of the academic year. The threat of closure due to H1N1 has hovered over us since the start of the year and other schools in China and Hong Kong regions have already had to close their buildings for a period of time due to this. At BISS however we have been fortunate with a lack of H1N1, however on September 30, we decided to close a day early for our break due to the Chinese 60th birthday celebrations (we were in fact going on break because of the National Holiday, however the preparation for the great parade was affecting us). Two weeks ago we closed for a half day as the government declared all people had to be indoors withing the third ring road by a certain time in order for the 60th birthday parade to rehearse. Given that BISS is an inner city school right near the third ring road, and given the difficulty for teachers and students to get in and out under these circumstances and given that October 1 is the big day, we decided to close on the 30th of September and keep off the roads generally.

Much activity been going on preparing our school for a V-BISS day as an actual rehearsal while at school....swapping classes etc to trial it all, but now that we face 'the real thing' we scurried and rallied to be prepared.

Discussion at school centered around tools to use, and mode of interaction. Let me summarise briefly:
BISS have implemented StudyWiz, and although we are shakily using the 9.3 version and waiting for our upgrade to the better performing 9.4, we have had much success with the features and ability to share curriculum and provide interesting tasks for the students. Some issues with network stability have caused frustrations, especially as we are not certain what the reasons are.
In addition to StudyWiz we are using Google docs and spreadsheets and other Web 2.0 tools including wikispaces and more recently, chat room facilities.

Mode of interaction
Should we approach this synchronously or asynchronously? All of our online tools allow for asynchronous interaction between stakeholders. However, what if we approached this also with a synchronous set of objectives? What if we asked students to observe the normal school day and be available for each 'class' according to the normal class time? Then, what if teachers designed online learning activities that took advantage of this synchronous ability?

My V-BISS day
What joy not having to climb out of bed at 5:15 to face the freeway trip into BISS! Needless to say I overslept a little but was at my computer (munching breakfast) by 8am. First on the agenda was to open up the room set up yesterday for all teachers and IT support to interact in real time to share frustrations and successes. A handful of colleagues were already in, mentioning StudyWiz was not opening for them. I was able to open SW straight away....hmmm, is this localised, as can be the case here in China right now it seems. No real answer except to keep trying.....and trying.....slow, fast, slow, stop......SW speed fluctuating and causing some angst so far.
Second on the agenda was an online meeting at 8:30 am with an international group of educators for the Digiteen Project my Grade 9 MYP Technology class are part of. This meeting was held as usual in Elluminate, online conferencing software that allows for screen-sharing, web tours, chatting, whiteboard, uploading PPTs and much more! At this meeting we had teachers from Qatar, Australia, and across the USA together discussing the next stage of the project. I always work with 2 laptops open, so as the Elluminate meeting was on (via my MacBook) I was keeping an eye on the tinychat room for BISS as well as testing StudyWiz movement (on my Tablet). At one stage after concentrating on the Digiteen meeting for a couple of minutes I look over to the Tablet and find about 4 webcam windows open with my colleagues from BISS waving and smiling and trying out the video/audio facility of was a humorous moment.

It became even more humorous when some of us decided to put on funny hats! Ok, who started this trend?

Third on the agenda was a Skype meeting with our Head of School, Dr Ettie Zilber and our DP Coordinator Lennox Meldrum. I have been charged with putting together a laptop policy to take to the Board in mid-October to clarify and move forward our current 1:1 implementation at BISS. Our meeting for today was meant to be face-to-face, however being V-BISS day I suggested using Skype (mainly so that I would not need to travel to work....). Ettie and Lennox were at work for other meetings already. So, we Skyped...couldn't get the video to work for some reason, but audio was good quality and the 1-hour meeting was very fruitful I believe.

Meanwhile IT Support are in the chat room and reporting their communication with StudyWiz home-base (in Australia) and letting us know they are there for us to help (excellent) and generally it is working well for all by now.

So, the time for my one and only class on a Wednesday, Grade 10 MYP Technology, came around quicker than I realised. At 12:15 I quickly logged into Edmodo, the 'Twitter-like' microblogging tool I asked the students to use in order to communicate. Some of my class were already in, sending messages etc. However there was a certain discontent with the tool, and a request to open a chat room for us. Once I started a new tinychat room the students and I were in, discussing the technology, and reviewing the work I had set which I had made available via StudyWiz and ALSO via my class wiki. We also experimented successfully with the video facility of the tool. Who said going to school was boring?

Violet's V-BISS day
It goes without saying that Violet (my daughter) did not spring out of bed at the usual time (it's V-BISS day Mum!) but was sort of awake by 8am. She logged into StudyWiz and checked her classes. She had English work to finish off and submit before the end of the day and an English class to attend in the morning with a short online test. She also had other class work to do, all of which was set out clearly in SW for her. The morning progressed...(with Violet mostly in bed still) doing homework and communicating with friends and teachers via her MacBook. The real-time English class in the room turned out to be a highlight. In Violet's words: "i found it good that we could ask Ms White questions in the chat".

My final reflection
I was pleasantly surprised that students would be conscientious and turn up to synchronous online events on a day when school is not in session. I believe the Asian student work ethic is very high which makes the planning and delivery of online sessions like this viable. However, out of a class of 18 I have about 13 online in real what about the rest? Well, one student's parents emailed to advise the Internet was down on the day....and the others I have not heard from yet. (We are about to start school again tomorrow after the break).
I was also pleasantly reassured that teachers generally were able to cope with an online mode of learning and those who 'got it' were engaged themselves and structured creative learning opportunities for their classes. We still have a lot of work to do...and data to collect via narrative and survey questions based on V-BISS day happenings. I am sure there will be a sequel to this blog post with further updates.

However, in closing.......V-BISS day was:
Virtual - we used online tools to connect, communicate, collaborate and create from our own homes
Visible - Those who were online were visible to others, showing an engaged approach to learning and connecting and inquiring
Vocal - We do not have to be in the same place at the same time to learn from each other. We have the technology, we have the power, we are constructing the bridges that connect us all together. This is is now, not the future, and we are successfully participating!

Finally......In the words of an admired colleague, Jabiz, currently working in Qatar, 'There's no such thing as virtual: It is all teaching'.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Across My Desk (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.