As part of my Innovator of the Month Award, I shall be writing about some of the innovative projects that I am involved in. Please note that the current netgened project is work in progress, so keep checking out the wiki to see how it transforms. (The above wordle summarizes this post in a word cloud.)
The Flat Classroom Projects were founded by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. There a variety of different projects, aimed at all school year levels . These projects are great to get involved in, especially as many educators prefer to join in existing and established global projects where :-
- The pressure of organizing is on the shoulders of experienced technology users and project managers.
- Risk taking is shared in a caring environment.
- A global network of educators, with similar interests and passions, can be tapped into and extended/maintained beyond the project itself.
- The Flat Classroom projects come with an amazing support base and a history of more than 5 years of learning and sharing collaboratively. Previous projects can still be explored and researched. There is a comprehensive teachers guide.
- There is full support from weekly online meetings to boot camps, keynote speakers, student project managers, teacher mentors, a social networking site for teachers and for students/teachers.
- There are expert advisors from across the globe for students and experienced expert teacher mentors for new teachers and much, much more
- Any issues and challenges that do arise especially when students, different cultures, religions and ideologies are involved are worked through with the teacher cohort. There is no feelings of blame if netiquette rules are breached, just teachable moments that are shared and solved collaboratively.
- Allowances for differing time zones and school years etc with some projects being offered several times per year.
The netgened project is aimed at senior students. Following is what it looks like from the student point of view:-
- Students socialize on the Flat Classroom Projects ning with teachers and expert advisors. They get to know each other, (especially their own team members) and enter into conversations.
- Each class or student is asked to prepare a handshake to introduce themselves. This could include details about their school, culture, passions, interest in the project etc.
- Students are grouped in teams, preferably in interest groups on one element of the latest Horizon Report and one of the netgened norms as outlined in Dan Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital. Each team has up to 5 members mixed across the schools involved. They no longer work within their clqssroom but beyond into the amazing flattened classroom that technology enables.
- Each mixed group of students researches their topic and summarizes their findings on a wiki page eg Game Based Learning
- There are student project managers for each group.
- They then individually create a movie or multimedia product that portrays their topic. This movie must include an outsourced clip from a student in another school or country. The student requests go up on the wiki and the video clips uploaded to the ning page, for students to grab and add to their movie. The final movie is added to the wiki. This movie is then judged by a panel of global judges and the winners are announced in a special webinar with all encouraged to attend.
- It finally concludes with a student summit. Each student individually presents and summarizes their learning in a Blackboard Collaborate webinar, which is publicized globally and interested students and educators are invited to attend and participate in these summits. They are recorded and recording links are added to the wiki. This aspect pushes students well beyond their comfort zones, but gives them a real sense of achievement when they have completed it.
From the teacher point of view
- Teachers are required to attend weekly online meetings and if they cannot attend, are asked to listen to the recording.
- Bootcamps are held on a number of the online tools that are used, so that teachers can feel comfortable with these tools and learn how to use them effectively. They are recorded and links can be found on the wiki.
- The workflow schedule is found on the wiki and trello is also being used for workflows, prompts and scheduling reminders.
- Teachers add their students to a team grid on a google document, ensuring that students are spread across schools and countries.
- Teachers are on virtual duty to ensure that students are working in an educational setting
- Teachers are encouraged to be expert advisors and look after a student group(s).
- A google group is used for updates, questions, queries etc amongst the teachers involved.
- The steep learning curve required for successful use of tools by both teachers and students
- Using different assessment criteria – now working with concepts of collaboration, connections, multi-media etc
- Students who do not follow appropriate netiquette and digital citizenship protocols
- Time zones
- Holidays, festivals, extra curricular activites – especially when many countries and schools are involved. (Every effort is made to accommodate everyone)
The tools used include: a ning, wiki, google groups, trello for workflow schedules, timebridge (for planning online meetings that will suit the majority), diigo for bookmarking, twitter, movie making software, powerpoint for student presentations in summits, blackboard collaborate for online meetings, student summits; skype for classes that may wish to videoconference each other etc and more
What do students learn?
- To use technological tools innovatively for connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating on a global basis. These skills will be necessary in the work force that is increasingly globalized.
- Netiquetts and digital citizenship
- Plaguraism, copyright and creative commons
- The use of hypertext language and other digital literacies
- They explore the impact of the latest technologies for education, their classrooms and global communities. The website that is built collaboratively contains knowledge, resources , case studies, experiences and summaries for interested educators
- They become aware of other cultures, religions, expectations and global experiences
- They work in an environment alongside teachers, experts, other students and global community members
- Real time commitments and work schedules
- They establish a learning network of their own which can be taken beyond the project.
- Students and teachers are given the opportunity to attend a Flat Classroom Conference every second year and a Flat Classroom workshop on the alternate year. These have been held in Dohar, Qatar, Mumbai, India and Beijing, China.
Have you been involved in the netgened project or other Flat Classroom projects? What have I missed? What else do you need to know. Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and they shall be answered.
(Read more from the Flat Classroom book by Julie and Vicki)