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Monday, November 09, 2009

The Conference for Educators and Students to Change Your Life



Last year, we had our first Flat Classroom conference in Doha, Qatar during which the students invented global collaborative projects that they believed would improve a social issue.  Out of that conference, the students invented and voted the Eracism Project as their winner, a project to hold weekly debates around creating an understanding of race and culture.  The first week into Eracism, I'll say the student vision was amazing and as teachers we are so excited about what we see with the potential for "simulated sychronous" environments to bridge gaps.



Now, Julie Lindsay and I are working diligently on the next Flat Classroom Conference, which we are calling a "mini-conference" because it is being held as part of ASB Unplugged in Mumbai India this upcoming February.  We are bringing the same project based learning environment along with incorporating adult educators - not as "teachers" but as co-participants and equals in the process of not only understanding technology but in improving the world at large.

Students will again be assigned a diverse group of students (last year in a group of four each student was from a different country) to use leading social technology tools to design the future of how students can use these tools to improve our world.  Most likely we will be settling on an environmental theme this year and will let you know in the upcoming month.

But the bottom line is this - we are making sure that you know that this conference in Mumbai is here for those who want their students and teachers to improve and change the world.  Through partnership with ASB Unplugged, we've worked to make 50 student scholarships available for housing and attending the conference and although the scholarships are first issued to students from schools who have participated in  a Flat Classroom project (Flat Classroom, Digiteen, Horizon, NetGenEd, and Eracism see http://www.flatclassroomproject.org for information on these projects.) we are opening up applications from any school.

If you want to view what happened last year in Doha Qatar, take a look at the powerful documentary about the conference.  We also are talking to some sponsors at this time not only for February 2010 but also for February 2011, which is at a location that will be announced soon.  We are talking to companies who believe in harnessing the power of social media and the engagement of students from around the world to improve our world through global collaboration in education.  We have tough problems to solve and it is important to engage our students in working together towards improving our world!

Julie and I are completely passionate and dedicated to making participation in our projects and conferences as affordable as possible and thus far have not charged one dime to participate in any of our projects and have scholarshiped students to these conferences with them only having to raise airfare and incidentals, but we are at the point that it just cannot be done alone.  We need your help!

So, spread the word - we're looking for at least 20 more students and their teachers to come to this amazing conference (most schools send about 4 students and 1-2 teachers) and also for sponsors who believe in this vision or who just want to understand how a PBL conference integrated educators and students into a meaningful, life changing experience is done.

How can you help?
  • Share this with your school and ask them to get involved in this grassroots movement to connect students in powerful, global ways.
  • Share the conference information - http://flatclassroomconference.wikispaces.com
  • Consider attending ASB Unplugged or our Flat Classroom Conference Strand as an educator 
  • Tweet information out.
  • Look for information about virtual participation.
  • Consider donating to help some at a local school pay for airfare. (Contact your local school directly as we are not taking donations at this time through us.)
We simply would not be doing these things without YOU.  My gratitude extends to you and all of those who have supported Flat Classroom projects with their time, volunteer efforts, and wisdom.  This sort of open-collaobration represents where we are heading and our minds and hearts are simply spinning with the huge demand and desire to bring this to so many schools.

Thank you again for sharing this with those who are interested. Here are the important links:
Press Release about the conference

FLAT CLASSROOM WORKSHOP AT ASB UN-PLUGGED

Details for those planning to attend

Flat Classroom Workshop at ASB Unplugged Overview


The American School of Bombay and ASB Unplugged are proud to be the host of the Flat Classroom Workshop (and mini-Conference), February 24-27, 2010 in Mumbai, India. Flat Classroom Projects have joined with ASB Unplugged, a conference organized in collaboration with the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, the Near East/ South Asia Center of Overseas Schools (NESA), and the Laptop Institute. The Flat Classroom Workshop Strand will include a unique, project based learning approach allowing participants to use cutting edge technology tools AND interactions with educators on the leadership strand to redefine learning while involving students in the process.

Co-founders of the Flat Classroom Project , Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, have joined forces with colleagues and supporters from around the world to provide another opportunity for a face-to-face, real-time gathering. The aim of getting together in the one place is to fully extend and foster connections and collaborations that will ultimately improve classroom practice and pedagogical approach using technology as part of a global flat classroom.

In an ever-changing world the impact of the Internet, in particular Web 2.0 tools, has been so significant it has changed the way students and teachers can interact and learn. There are opportunities for different learning relationships and for multi-modal outcomes using multimedia and online tools. The conference will provide opportunities for leaders in education, classroom teachers and administrators as well as students to learn with and from each other in a 'flat classroom' model. It is envisaged the workshop experience will culminate in actions that are then shared around the world and sustained by continued projects based on community and curriculum needs.

What is the Flat Classroom Workshop?

The aim of the workshop is to bring together geographically dispersed participants with a view to sharing ideas, using mobile computing, learning about Web 2.0 communication and collaboration tools in a flattened world, and working on a project theme that can be transplanted back into their home school. The selected theme will inspire unity and action as well as fostering continued connections after the event in Mumbai. It is envisaged this will improve global understanding and cement friendships for ongoing collaborations. It is also envisaged that this will provide an opportunity for students and teachers together to 'create the future' through exploration of a global or social issue and developing an 'action' plan to work globally to overcome this

Who Should Attend?

The workshop is aimed at Middle and High school students. It is envisioned that past and present participants in Flat Classroom Projects and previous workshops projects will be interested in coming as well as classrooms who are wanting to have a 'Flat Classroom' experience and take the ideals and skills back to their own schools. Each participating school is encouraged to register up to 4 students, and if interested, 2 teachers. Workshop teams will be made up of participants from different schools and countries.

What will you do?

An essential element of the workshop is to join students (and teachers) together in a constructivist learning environment, and by using 'flat classroom' tools, work through a project-based, action-oriented learning workshop. Skill development in Web 2.0 and multimedia tools along with enhanced cultural understanding and digital citizenship support the pedagogical approach to collaborative learning in a digital world. The skills and tools will provide the scaffolding for developing ideas and putting into place actions that could make a difference to the world. We invite you to browse the recent Flat Classroom Workshop in Hong Kong wiki to see what we did there. All conferences and workshops connect via the Flat Classroom Conference Ning

Flat Classroom Conference

Flat Classroom Conference, held in Qatar, January 2009, brought more than 150 education leaders, teachers and students together to Qatar to envision the future of education. Students and teachers from very diverse backgrounds such as Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United States, China, Australia, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Ethiopia, South Africa, and beyond came to the Leadership Workshop and Student Summit. The student videos and reflections on the conference Ning show the positive affect that the conference had on reducing stereotypes, not only of the Middle East, but of one another.
This conference was not a lecture-based conference but primarily a project-based conference using the latest in educational research in project based learning to rework how content is delivered in a conference format. Using small teams, group presentations, and multiple interactions between students and educators, a rich, interactive environment evolved. Multimedia was a focus, with students exploring topics and creating rich presentations. Many presenters, educators, and students have expressed their favorable opinion in their post-conference reflections of the need to deploy this method of improving education on a global basis.

What is the Flat Classroom Project?

Info from the ABOUT wiki found at http://www.flatclassroomproject.org/About

The Flat Classroom project is a ground breaking, internationally recognized project which combines hundreds of students from various cultures, countries, and backgrounds into a meaningful collaborative writing and digital storytelling project to study the trends in information technology. After the initial project won multiple international awards and was included in Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat v.3, it has been remixed into 11 different projects following the same model. These projects have joined together almost 2,000 students from more than 20 countries and is widely considered a best-practice for as a holistic and constructivist educational approach that creates students who are competitive and globally minded.
The project was co-founded by Vicki Davis http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/ (Westwood Schools, USA) and Julie Lindsay http://123elearning.blogspot.com/ (Beijing (BISS) International School) in 2006 when they were located literally around the world from one another. This project uses a wide variety of Web 2.0 tools including wikis, educational (social) networks, cross-timezone calendaring, collaborative digital storytelling and publishing to "flatten" or lower the classroom walls to join two or more classes virtually to become one large classroom.
A little more about the projects:
The current projects cover the following topics:
  • Flat Classroom Project - The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on 'The World is Flat' by Thomas Friedman. Students collaborate on a wiki then produce an individual multimedia piece in response to their topic. A clip in this piece is 'outsourced' to a team member in another classroom, so not only do students study the flatteners as discussed by Friedman, they use them in the project.
  • As a sister to the Flat Classroom Project the Horizon Project, as mentioned in Don Tapscott's recent book, Grown Up Digital now renamed as the Net Generation Education project and run in collaboration with Tapscott himself, also lowers or 'flattens' the classroom walls by emphasizing connection, communication, collaboration and creativity as well as higher-order thinking skills and problem solving. This project is based on the Horizon Report released annually by New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiate that outlines 6 trends they believe will be impacting college and university campuses within the next five years.
  • A further imitative recently is the Digiteen Project which has linked classrooms of middle school students from Australia, Canada, USA, Spain and Qatar with the aim of promoting better online citizenship through research and discussion and culminates in each school taking action within their own community to promote this.
In 2009, the Digiteen and NetGenEd projects are adding a virtual component in OpenSim and have gridizenship added as a component of digital citizenship in their work. In addition the new project 'Eracism' will provide an opportunity for global debate around he need to 'erase racism'.

Registration Details

Our aim is to encourage participants from around the world to attend the Flat Classroom Workshop and wish to support this by providing accommodation and most expenses for students, including meals and sight-seeing, while in Mumbai in the form of a 'scholarship'. Students and teachers who have been past or current participants in the Flat Classroom Project or at recent Flat Classroom Workshops will be given priority however we strongly encourage all interested applicants.

Interested applicants are requested to complete this online form to register and to be considered for scholarship benefits.
Application deadline has been extended.
Successful applicants will be notified by November, 2009

More information is available from flatclassroomproject@gmail.com
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