Monday, February 6, 2012

Innovative Educators Enable Students to Break Free From the Classroom and Connect with The World

If you read this month’s Education Week, you may have noticed I was quoted in article U.S. Schools Forge Foreign Connections Via Web which explains how American students are teaming up with classrooms around the world to learn valuable lessons. The piece features anecdotes of young people connecting and learning with others like the American students who videoconferenced with students in Egypt when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Americans and Egyptians both were in awe, clapping and laughing and sharing in a moment of global importance. Donna Rose, the director of the American school’s program explained that they had a real-life lessons in “what freedom is, what a democracy means, how fortunate they are to be where they are, and how people have to struggle to get to that level.” She shared that “In a heartbeat, they changed their view of humanity” and asked, “How could I have done that on my own?”

The reality is that not only is it true that Ms. Rose couldn’t have done that on her own, she shouldn’t have. In the age of the internet the world is indeed flat. We no longer need to depend on politicians, agenda-backed textbooks, or the media to tell us about other peoples and cultures.  We can connect ourselves easily with tools like Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Hangout and with the advent of Google Translate it has become even easier to understand people from around the world.

In the article I shared how I thought this would affect children and our society explaining that it’s really easy to hate what you don’t know. However, I believe social media will help break down barriers and help build tolerance in our word. In fact, in the future, I think there are going to be big changes in the way countries are defined, because people around the world are going to be connecting and bonding with each other in a way that doesn’t involve places, but rather their ideas and passions.

It is no longer acceptable for educators to keep children confined to a classroom. Even with just one computer and the internet, any classroom can, and should, be transformed into a global communication center. Read about how teachers across America like Suzie Nestico and The Flatclassroom Project, are doing just that in this month’s Education Week.

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