I spent my Saturday night chatting with friends, new and old, from around the US and the world. It’s so easy to to develop the ties to make these conversations possible now, and I wonder how many people realize this. We can’t continue to live in our own little bubbles, and I think that’s why I’m so interested in the promotion of global awareness. As I wrote earlier this week in a response on the Global Education ning, it’s not about "competing in a global economy" for me… it’s about experiencing all that the world has to offer. I want kids and other adults to realize that there is so much out there to discover and explore.
Inspired by the success of Steve Hargadon’s Classroom 2.0 group, I’ve organized the aforementioned ning and the project is about a year old. We’re up to about 520 members, and activity is growing steadily. I convened members last night,first using Timebridge to schedule the meeting, and then using Flashmeeting as our communication tool. You can replay the meeting using the above link. There’s also a transcript of the accompanying chat. Aside from a few people have flash issues and not being able to show their video feed, the meeting went really well. 25 people from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Singapore participated!
I set a tentative agenda ahead of time which helped us stay on track. The first item discussed was how to develop a wider audience, specifically reaching out to teachers in Africa and South America, continents which are woefully underrepresented in the Global Education Collaborative. Alternative partnerships and publicity seeking measures probably will be pursued by members of our advisory group. We also discussed a survey, which I finished after the meeting, and you are welcome to take it here (Google Docs and Spreadsheets now supports survey creation). Our third agenda item focused on building community within our ning, and we mostly likely will be offering some monthly activities for adults so that we can get to know each other better. Collaborations seem to grow out of building relationships, so we want to give our members more opportunities to do so.
The ning design was also discussed and we decided that simplifying the design might help people find content. We decided also that a project template would be helpful, and that members need to post which country they are from as project partners are often seeking schools in specific areas of the world. Other design add-ons discussed included possibly adding Web 2.0 features such as a Meebo chat room and a Twitter feed for the GEC. I also think we need to build in some sort of mechanism for long range planning. For instance, U.S teachers can start promoting and planning now for next school year’s projects. Last minute projects don’t seem to work for teachers who already have pretty specific plans for meeting standards and the like.
Finally, many GEC members are interested in building a model global awareness curriculum. I’m not sure what that will look like, but as Emily Kornblut of TakingITGlobal pointed out, there are lots of exisiting curricular pieces out there that could be brought into play for this part of our project. She specifically pointed to Oxfam’s resources. Personally, I’d like to develop something simple for teachers to refer to, possibly a global awareness version of this technology integration matrix. I’d love to see a continuum of example global education projects, ranging from the simple to the more complex, so that teachers could select projects to replicate depending on their level of confidence with content and technology. This curriculum model is in its earliest stages, so we shall see what direction it takes, but GEC members agreed that a wiki might be a great planning tool for this. We will establish one in the near future.
Stay tuned for more news from us…We’re planning on informally getting together at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio, Texas, this June. If you have any questions about our work, or about the tools involved in planning a global meeting such as this, please let me know. Also, we’d love for readers to join the ning and help us out as we continue to grow and thrive in this brave new world!