Students want to connect. They want to say hello to a world that is new to them and they do not know. They are curious and they want to connect.
See these students from Westdale from the current Flat Classroom project (over 500 students on this one) and the quick video they put together to say "Hey."
Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Project
Can you package the world?
There is a trend right now to sell "packages" to schools and I've had quite a few of my friends send me copies of these packages to review for them.
This "package" includes a blog and a wiki and a messaging service with parents.
What's not in the package is the story:
Does the "Package" include kids from another state? Another Town? Another culture? Another country?
If not, then package is just another word for "box." A box that keeps kids in and the world out.
There is a time and place for packages but don't think that all your needs can be met in one package any more than all of your needs can be met in one house. I can live much of my life in my house but I still need to leave it to work, to go to the grocery store, go to church, and go do fun things.
Getting out is great.
I know we have huge districts and tons of students involved here and whatever we have to do should be scalable. But right now digiteen is topping 900 and Flat Classroom is over 500 and it is still working. Global collaboration on a massive basis is SCALABLE and even more than that it is important.
21st Century Connections
So, twenty first century skills are important but how about twenty first century connections for goodness sakes?
Should a student be able to collaborate with someone from another country? Time zone? Who speaks primarily another language?
Can you put that in a box? Can that be packaged?
I know with Flat Classroom in some ways that is what we're working towards is a "package" of global collaboration but God forbid the day it restrains and restricts and boxes us.
We were just in the Flat Classroom chat and Vivesh from Wendy Melnick's class in Canada asked if I would skype him and I did in the last five minutes of class. It led to everyone in the class skyping and connecting and saying "hey" to one another. My students are now much more excited I think because of that interaction.
This is different - it is getting outside the box of the classroom and the schoolhouse into the schoolhouse of the world.
These things have to be put into the curriculum and it isn't just twenty first century SKILLS - this is about people and twenty first century connections.
Today was a very exciting, rewarding day in my Flat Classroom -- what about yours?