Sunday, December 10, 2006

Flat Classrooms in Dhaka and Camilla

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I'm a little late blogging about this: Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay started an exciting and ambitious collaboration between Vicki's grade 10 class in Camilla, Georgia and Julie's grade 11 class in Dhaka, Bangladesh -- the Flat Classroom Wiki Project. The students from each class are paired, one to one, with each other and together are researching and exploring one of six topics selected by their teachers from Thomas Freedman's book The World is Flat.

The students have until Tuesday December 12 to complete their work and archive it on the project wiki. Julie and Vicki have asked four educators from around the world to act as judges to decide on which groups' work is the best in each of several categories. They asked me to be the Canadian judge. I was happy to accept. This is such a ground breaking, innovative project!

Vicki and Julie are being careful to have the kids document their collaboration in the discussion tab associated with each wiki page they create. They've made doing so part of the assessment rubric. They are also asking us, the judges, to do the same with an eye towards creating a reference that others can use to replicate the nature of their work.

I've recently been exploring the use of web 2.0 tools in the context of assessment as learning. I'm also exploring the new pedagogies made possible by web 2.0. Vicki and Julie are too and they are doing so concretely in their classrooms every day. They are also documenting and sharing their work with all of us on the project wiki. Projects like this really underscore the changing pedagogy required of all of us in the 21st century. Teachers and students collaborating across continents, learning and exploring current issues in a meaningful and concrete way, sharing the entire process transparently with the world, encouraging others to build upon their experiences and modeling best practices with the new tools available to all of us for free on the web.

I was talking with a friend of mine who teaches at the University of Manitoba. I was sharing with him Julie and Vicki's model of learning and collaboration. He thought it would be a great idea for his fourth year undergraduate students. I told him Julie and Vicki teach high school. ;-)

Julie and Vicki have been getting some recognition for their work. It seems that Thomas Friedman reads Julie's blog. He left her a message. One of Julie's students was interviewed by the BBC and they have also been nominated for an Edublog Award in the Best Wiki category. They are in some very auspicious company. Read about the other nominees and vote for your favourite wiki of 2006 here.

2 comments:

Vicki A. Davis said...
10/12/06 18:47  

Darren, I appreciate your judging this wiki project. It was truly under the K12 online conference that the proverbial light bulb went on in my head and I began to understand just what the flattening world and technologies such as wikis and blogs enable us to do.

I believe colleges should collaborate as well as high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. Perhaps not on a daily basis but definitely once or twice a year for major projects.

Interestingly, it is having an impact on the world view of my students because my class is predominantly Christian and Julie's is predominantly Muslim -- they are learning that they are more alike than they realize and how to cooperate with each other. I am very proud of all of them.

I knew you would be a perfect judge for this project because you emulate what I believe all professional teachers should do -- blog their journey! Thanks again! Congratulatons on your nomination for best teacher blog. I am truly honored to be on the "short list" with such blogging giants as yourself.

Darren said...
11/12/06 11:53  

Thanks Vicki!

I've always felt that most of the worlds ills can be solved by a combination of education and open, constructive conversations. We're all far more alike than we are different.

The incidental learning for your students -- and everyone observing your collaboration with Julie -- is an excellent model for us all.

I really appreciate the open and transparent way you guys are sharing what you're learning.

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