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."