Flat Classroom Project: Fresh start in a new world

The brilliant work by Julie Lindsay (Beijing, China) and Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, Georgia, USA) continues in The Flat Classroom Project 2010-1 which is now is well under way for 2010.

The Flat Classroom™ Project is a global collaborative project that joins together middle and senior high school students. This project is part of the emerging tend in internationally-aware schools to embrace a holistic and constructivist educational approach to work collaboratively with others around the world.

One of the main goals of the project is to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, 2 or more classes are joined virtually to become one large classroom. This is done through the Internet using Web 2.0 tools such as Wikispaces and Ning.

The Project uses Web 2.0 tools to make communication and interaction between students and teachers from all participating classrooms easier. The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on ‘The World is Flat‘ by Thomas Friedman.

I was honoured to be invited to present the Keynote, ‘Pandora’s Box: Fresh Start in a New World’ for FCP10-1. This time there are  over 200 students from 10 classrooms across 6 different countries.

Here are some guiding questions to get them thinking about how to respond and start a discussion or foster an existing discussion:

  1. Is global collaboration using emerging technologies a pandora’s box? Why?
  2. How can we best prepare the ’17 year old Internet/connected world’ to mature and grow into ‘adulthood’?
  3. How has the flat world impacted on you as a teenager? as a teacher?
  4. What place do immersive worlds and virtual realities have in education?

Open Source ethos

I have been spending a bit of time thinking about The World is Flat by Friedman in preparation for the first Flat Classroom Project in 2010. Amongst other things, I thought about Open Source thinking and flat world communications which I planned to share in the  Keynote kick-off.

Well, you now how it is – I just couldn’t share everything  I wanted to (lots out in the rough cuts), but the ‘finds’ are still inspirational.

You have to be inspired by the powerhouses of  Open Source software and Open Content. There is no doubt in my mind that an Open Source ethos is the best way to collaborate, create, share, and be empowered to inspire future learning.

For example, during the crisis in Haiti, the Open Source community did amazing work in Haiti OpenStreetMap to assist aid and rescue workers to do their work and help the relief and reconstruction effort. It was a Flat Classroom Project in action – creating up-to-date  maps of  Port au Prince. Dozens of mappers and developers were able to lend a hand, coordinating on the OSM Haiti WikiProject.

Thanks to Paul Hamilton, I was inspired by yet another amazing example of the power of work taking place using Open Source Software to help people. The development of the  Eyewriter is inspirational. The Eyewriter uses low cost creative technology an free open source software to enable graffiti writers and artists with paralysis to draw using only their eyes.

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