The United Nations have adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals) in a bid to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
One of the new ISTE Student Standards is the Global Collaborator: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
Sustainable Development Goal no. 11 of the United Nations SDG goals is to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
Both these goals were put into practice by communicating and connecting over skype with Anu Sharma a teacher in New Delhi, India and year 8 her students. Her students were studying SDG goals, in particular the Sustainable Cities aspect. They wanted to discuss problems relating to traffic – pollution etc in our countries. The first connection was a mystery skype ( to work out what country each of us were from).
The second involved discussions about traffic rules, how they work in each of our cities and the road signs that we use. Anu’s students would do some research work and find possible solutions to the prevalent problems, which would then be discussed in the second skype connection. Her students made display boards, PowerPoint presentations and prepared speeches.
The main road through Hawkesdale
Dirt tracks around Hawkesdale
At first, I was reluctant. Our school is in a town with a population of 220. There is not much traffic and little or no pollution. Some of our roads are dirt, and the majority of vehicles comprise trucks, buses and through traffic. Their city in contrast has a population of more than 21 million, pollution is of high concern and there is high traffic usage. However, we do have some problems with the health of our roads, slow moving vehicles eg tractors and animals such as kangaroos on the roads and although it is in stark contrast to Delhi could make good learning comparisons. Australia ranks 20th on SDG index and India ranks 116th.
However, I agreed to connect. As most of my classes are in the morning, this did not match with the Indian times. The ideal connection would have been my year 8 ICT class communicating virtually. Instead, I asked some students if they would come in at lunchtimes to connect. It was 1pm our time and 8:30am Indian time.
The three sessions that we connected were fascinating. My students had to listen intently to the accents of the Indian participants to ensure we could understand their speaking. It was much easier when they shared their screen and showed the powerpoint presentations, with imagery and some text. There were some similarities but many, many differences, some of which shocked us.
- many of our road rules were the same.
- the majority of our road signs were similar
- each country suffered from major potholes, but ours were caused by trucks, milk tankers, rain, poorly sealed roads, some of theirs were caused by earthquakes.
- sheer population numbers
- traffic jams of gigantic proportions (their are no traffic jams in our local area)
- Our traffic is light, theirs was incredibly heavy and busy
- Pollution was heavy in Delhi, light in Hawkesdale
- Another gaping difference was the method in which the potholes are repaired. They showed pictures of 20 – 30 people working on the roads compared with us in Australia, using advance machinery and equipment.