Going Flat in the Classroom

[Ken Lockette, a colleague of mine describes how the Avonworth School District, integrates global learning and opportunities into all aspects of the curriculum in this P21 blog article. I’ve been fortunate to see the video conferencing in operation. It’s amazing to watch kids from around the world tackle global problems using a project-based learning framework.]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

by Ken Lockette, Assistant Superintendent, Avonworth School District- A P21 Exemplar on July 07, 2016

Volume 3, Issue 6, Number 2
Driving Question: What if a high school combines global education, creativity and technology to prepare students for today’s flat world?
“By ‘flat’ I did not mean that the world is getting equal. I said that more people in more places can now compete, connect and collaborate with equal power and equal tools than ever before. That’s why an Indian in Bangalore can take care of the office work of American doctors or read the X-rays of German hospitals”– Thomas Friedman
Much has happened since Thomas Friedman forefronted the idea of globalization. In his landmark book The World is Flat (2005), his predictions made us rethink our place on this planet. In the last 10 years, new “flatteners” have developed through the advances of smartphones, wi-fi, and social networking for schools to venture into this flat world?
Through social media alone, revolutions like the Arab Spring have arisen, and young people in the United States have connected with their counterparts in countries like Iran, Libya, Egypt and other nations, creating empathy and the realization that they have more in common than they would have ever believed. Couple this increased global connectedness with a national election year, where rhetoric about foreign and domestic policies surrounding global issues such as immigration, refugee crises, environmental concerns, and terrorism muddy the water with more misinformation than fact, and it becomes vitally important to address global learning in our schools more than ever before. Is it time for our schools to discover this flat world?

Going Global

[Back in what seems like the Dark Ages of Educational Technology I was seeking international partners for students to work on global projects. Here’s a Hechinger Report that shares a variety of opportunities for students to help solve global problems.]

Tech Smart


A student in Uganda communicates with her learning partners in New Orleans. Photo: Theo Niyirinda

This fall, after getting to know each other in online video exchanges, some Ugandan high school students told a group of students in New Orleans that most Ugandans have no reliable electricity and use candles or lanterns after dark. Over the following weeks, the students worked together to build solar-powered lights. An education technology startup called Level Up Village supplied both schools with solar cells, batteries and LEDs, along with 3-D printers to fabricate the housings, tutorials on electricity and computer-aided design, and an online workspace for posting notes and swapping ideas.

Global learning initiatives like this are booming, because the technologies that long made our world seem smaller are finally at the point where they can seamlessly make classrooms that much bigger. For years, educators have wanted to teach “global competency”—meaning a grasp of international issues and the ability to work with people around the world. Until recently, however, virtual border crossings were typically one-time extravagances pulled off in a handful of elite schools.

Now, growing computing power, accelerating broadband, social media and virtual reality are bringing global education to the masses. Schools are connecting and collaborating globally in all sorts of ways, ranging from Tweets and Skype sessions to full-blown online global learning platforms, most of which will be up for discussion in the webinars and keynote speakers of this week’s online Global Education Conference.

Read more…

Collaborative Learning Spaces: Classrooms That Connect to the World

[I serve as the co-chair for the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. One of our future reports will look at Remaking Learning Spaces. Here’s an Edutopia article that outlines innovative ideas and technology to make those spaces more collaborative and global.]

October 16, 2015

Photo credit: Brad Flickinger via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Editor’s note: This post is co-authored by Fran Siracusa, co-founder of and educational technologist for Calliope Global.

As citizens of the world, students in today’s classrooms seek global contexts for learning. Opportunities for networked and international collaborations are bringing both the world to classrooms and classrooms to the world. With a focus on international standards of instruction, globally-minded programs inspire students to be curious through investigation and reflective in analysis of thought. These pathways lead to the development of cultural literacy by allowing students to examine issues of global significance through interconnected sharing of experience and exchange of ideas. Collaborative learning spaces empower students to work with each other and with students in classrooms of the world to assume multiple perspectives, explore alternative solutions, and thoughtfully solve problems.

By examining the landscape of the classroom, educators can design collaborative learning spaces that will support the teaching and learning of skills needed for the interconnected world of today and tomorrow. By seamlessly connecting pedagogy, technology, and space, teachers can create spaces that promote social learning and maximum engagement. These collaborative classrooms are alive with action — teaching, learning, innovating, creating, making, and exploring. Innovative learning spaces can encourage both individual and collective voices, and, through use of emerging technologies, they inspire students to become skillful curators of their digital worlds. Though there cannot be a single universal blueprint for designing a collaborative learning space, teachers can use the goal of global collaboration to inspire classroom design that allows for connected sharing and learning.

While there are many design ideas that could help drive this transformation, we suggest the following three as a starting point.

Read More …

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