Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Flat classrooms project revisited

Previously I blogged about the Flat Classroom Project. I have just read all the pages of the wiki and watched all the videos about the levellers that operate in our educational and industry institutions. Students made these webpages and videos in a two week project in which one or two students from Bangladesh were paired with one or two students from southern USA to work together. Not only did the students collaborate - the judges did also. The collaboration among the judges, Darren Kuropatwa, Terry Freedman, Jeff Utecht and me, has been done mainly on a wiki and by email, although we experimented with Yackpack as well. I have felt so honoured to have been involved in this even in a small way and have learnt things I didn't know and that I can use. I would dearly love to know what the students got out of this project (and I'm sure we'll get to hear something). The discussion pages on the wiki show the students starting their collaboration, before they go on to use other means of communication such as meebo and skype as well as IM, so we don't get to hear their thoughts as they get further into it.

On the issue of international collaboration
Janet Barnstable says, "The more the students broaden their ideas, the more they reach out to other people the more they learn about themselves." She says this in the course of the Virtual Staffroom podcast with Chris Betcher and Sharon Peters. Chris Betcher reads an acceptance speech written by students, who in a previous time had been involved in the Virtual Classroom Project which had won an award. The students wrote that they had dealt with language barriers, time zones, and changing stereotypes. They said that countries "have gone from being names on a map to becoming real places with history and culture." They had gained a worldwide perspective. As Sharon says about her experience of the interview:
"Chris interviewed us by using Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat as a lens through which we now see the world. The global flatteners include such leveraging technologies as the Internet, online telephony services, web -based management software (i.e. Google docs and wikis) and so on. These have greatly facilitated communication and collaboration between groups at a distance. What a terrific opportunity we now have to provide our students with training in cross-cultural communication, collaboration skills, good netiquette practices - all while we can be also addressing our curricular goals. During our interview, we offer up some good tips and strategies for making use of these tools to participate in projects, big and small, that involve students from different
places around the globe."

It's really encouraging to know that students in 2007 have these experiences available to them so that there is more chance of global understanding and more realistic learning. Have a look at what the students have made of their collaboration at the award winning website (Best wiki) in the Edublog awards. As Vicki and Julie say: "The world is indeed flat as are our classrooms. We truly believe that we taught lifetime lessons within a short two and a half week project. Our students entered the projects as kids and are now using terms like “professional” and “collaborative” to talk about who they are."


  1. You are indeed a star and through your involvement and feedback, I dream of being able to share a duplicative model of such projects with other teachers. Thank you for all of the time you have invested in this project!

  2. Jo, thanks for the great post! We sound as if we have much in common - would love to know more about your teaching situation. It is so exciting to hear about more teachers who want to get involved in international projects because of their vision and passion for providing best learning possibilities for their students. Best of luck in your new academic year. Cheers, Sharon Peters

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