The world isn’t flat, but technology is making classrooms that way.
Teacher Robyn Thiessen’s Grade 3/4 class at Surrey’s Green Timbers Elementary is one of 23 classrooms around the world participating in a “Flat Classroom” project to explore through discussion, sharing and multi-media what life is like in different parts of the world.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to connect and collaborate with children around the world, to share the similarities between our cultures and to ultimately discover and appreciate how much we all have in common,” says Thiessen.
Inspired by Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, the Flat Classroom was co-founded in 2006 by educators American Vicki Davis and Australian Julie Lindsay. It’s an award-winning global collaborative project that leverages online tools to foster communication and interaction between students and teachers from classrooms around the world.
Green Timbers students are among 785 students from six countries taking part in the “A Week in the Life” project, which started in September and runs until December. Using online tools such as wikis, blogs, Skype and other interactive web applications, students will work in teams from different schools and use technology to connect, communicate and collaborate as they exchange information about a week in their own lives.
Thiessen’s students have been assigned to different teams alongside students from Hong Kong, China, Brazil, Yugoslavia and the U.S. Using Edmodo’s social learning network tools, students are learning how their counterparts in other countries go to school, where they live, how they get around, what kind of food they eat, what they celebrate, what they wear, what languages they speak, what they do for fun and what their environment is like.
The Flat Classroom project is something her students will remember well into their teen years, says Thiessen, and perhaps even their adult lives; it will help inform their perspective on everything from social issues to current events.
“The lessons are invaluable. By ‘flattening the classroom,’ we’re strengthening the bonds and connections we have with each other and by extension our care and compassion for people who are just like us but who happen to live somewhere else.”
The project’s objective is to demonstrate that children are the same, regardless of where they live in the world.