Global projects: The three-headed solution

Sometime in the last couple of days I was listening to a CBC Radio interview with a gentleman who was talking about blood-cell sized implants that will be used manage personal health issues.  He says that these are about 30 years away, when all of my students will be younger than I am now. His contention is that these tools will be so powerful that the first thousand year old is now walking the streets of a town near you.  It’s hard to imagine – and fraught with huge social issues that will demand much debate – but so was sending a man to the moon or any number of technology-based advances.

Creating global citizens prepared to work, play and learn in a world ten, twenty or fifty years from now, a world that we can barely imagine, is a huge undertaking.  The move to cloud computing will make PC’s – in their present form – obsolete in the next decade.  What will this mean? Why do we continue to “teach” computer-based software in our classrooms, somehow confident that it is preparing our students for their future?  Why do our teachers feel that by integrating PowerPoint into their teaching they are somehow creating a different breed of young person?

I still think it comes down to three critical questions when it comes to our children’s learning; what are we doing every day to a) create information artisans who are able to locate, harvest, assess, connect, create and communicate information in a digital, networked form, b) support them in developing and managing their own personal learning networks and c) help them understand and develop their own digital footprint, developing and managing their own personal brand.

On Monday, I’ll be working with language teachers at St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve been asked to center the conversations around the power of connecting students using web tools – I’ll focus on wikis although there are lots of other tools available – to connect students. Who better to learn about the world from than a fellow young person.  Through incorporating a foreign language study, it becomes an even more powerful tool or learning.

I am excited about the possibilities here. Properly designed and managed global projects address all three questions. Our students need more opportunities to work collaboratively with students around the world. While Cisco isn’t the only solution, they do have great commercials. This one captures the essence of students passion for connecting.

If you’re a teacher, are your students connecting, and not just connected?

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