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    By: Fred Mednick

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Course 4, Chapter 7 - Education for a Global Society

Module by: Fred Mednick. E-mail the author

Figure 1: A student meeting foreign delegates at a Teachers Without Borders' conference
Bujumbura, Burundi
Bujumbura, Burundi (burundiboy.jpg)

Teachers Without Borders

From TWB website:

Teachers are the largest single group of trained professionals in the world and the key to our children's future. Teacher training is often uneven, protracted, or unsupported. Teachers need our assistance; otherwise, we are left with poverty, lack of development, and a gaping digital, educational, and economic divide. Every major global report considers teacher development an urgent, collective necessity in developed and developing nations. Teachers need to connect to, give, and receive information quickly, and in multiple languages.

If the key to economic development and our young people's future is education, then teachers should have resources, tools, and access to the Internet, as well as each other. Even more, the resources of the community - its natural wisdom, its culture, its connection to the land and to history - must be treasured, acknowledged, and celebrated.

The education divide is not one-sided. Many "developed" countries are bereft and rudderless, yet are surrounded by modern comforts. Many "undeveloped" countries have rich resources they cannot access. All peoples suffer when we are disconnected from each other. Some need technology and infrastructure development; others need consultation and development. All peoples need education as a binding force. Education, in this era, requires global citizenry.

Teachers Without Borders was designed along the model of a circle; we receive as a charity and we give as a trade. The organization IS its collective wisdom; every member represents teachers everywhere. We are therefore able to work in emergencies, as part of national reform efforts, and with relief organizations or charities precisely because we rely on local expertise. That expertise, in turn, is a resource for others. So, the more we give, the more we receive.

We do not claim a one-size fits all model. Our "peer-education" approach ensures a "virtuous cycle" of data exchange among educators worldwide. We work toward the empowerment and enhancement of education efforts already in place, to increase long-term and local support, rather than sporadic, short-lived interventions. Education should not be limited to schools alone, but to wherever a community gathers.

Global Collaboration Opportunities

You have chosen to embark upon a plan of professional development because there is no such thing as a continental cocoon. To remain static, in this age, is to move backwards. The articles you have been reading and your conversations with colleagues must have inspired you, in some fashion, to participate in shaping a new world for the 21st century. In so doing, you are helping generations to come.

As you begin to explore the possibilities for cross-cultural interaction, global classroom projects, and new learning opportunities, you will come across several programs in existence. We have listed sites, below that may spark some ideas for you as you work on a Global Collaboration project with your learning circle and their students in Assignment 8:

Project ideas already in motion (online only)

More projects to consider (online only)

Connecting urban and indigenous children worldwide (online only)

Also, please review the following sites listed on the Teachers Without Borders website page: Global Collaborations (online only)

Recommended Reading:

Living Values education site includes bibliographies, resources, emphasizes diversity (online only)

Network of networks for global knowledge (online only)

Assignment 8: Your Global Collaboration

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 8: Your Global Collaboration - Making a Plan

Part One

You and your students, along with your fellow teachers and their students, are being asked to participate in a global education learning exchange that will take place over three weeks. You can use the project links on the previous page as a source of inspiration or create something entirely new. Please fill in the following and send to your learning circle for feedback:

Objectives - Why did you choose this project? What is your learning objective? List the information/skill(s) to be learned.

Student groups - Assignment of roles; how group will conduct its work; how many times the group will meet and length of time for each group session; what they are supposed to do each time they meet?

Process - What you will do to prepare students for this assignment; length of time for each of the group sessions; the environment for learning - preparation of the room.

Presentation & Evaluation - Determine in advance (and discuss with the class ) your criteria for a "successful" project; create a schedule for presentations - accountability and evaluation of the project; presentation skills: (clarity, artistry, compelling quality); how you will ensure that each student has made a contribution; how you will reward the group?

Part Two

  1. 1) Write a two-page Reflection Paper describing how you, your students, and your learning circle addressed each of the above questions; how it went during the three-week period (provide a summary of student reactions to this global collaboration project); and thoughts for enhancing the learning exchange.

Webquests - Using the Internet to Connect Globally

Definition

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by a student is drawn from the resources on the Internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing. WebQuests are designed to use students' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support students' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

There are at least two levels of WebQuests that should be distinguished from one another:

Short-Term WebQuests

The instructional goal of a short-term WebQuest is knowledge acquisition and integration. At the end of a short-term WebQuest, a student will have grappled with a significant amount of new information and made sense of it. A short-term WebQuest is designed to be completed in one to three class periods.

Longer-Term WebQuest

The instructional goal of a Longer-term WebQuest is extending and refining knowledge. After completing a Longer-term WebQuest, a student would have analyzed a body of knowledge deeply, transformed it in some way, and demonstrated an understanding of the material by creating something that others can respond to - on-line or off-line. A longer term WebQuest will typically take between one week and a month in a classroom setting.

Adapted from San Diego State University's Webquest Place, which includes an overview, training materials, and examples

Critical Attributes of a WebQuest

According to colleagues at the University of Malta:

"There is questionable educational benefit in having students 'surf the net' without a clear task in mind. To achieve that efficiency and clarity of purpose, WebQuests should contain at least the following parts:

  1. An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information.
  2. A task that is doable and interesting.
  3. A set of information sources needed to complete the task. (Information sources might include web documents, experts available via e-mail or realtime conferencing, searchable databases on the net, and books and other documents physically available in the learner's setting.)
  4. A description of the process the students should go through in accomplishing the task. The process should be broken out into clearly described steps.
  5. Some guidance on how to organize the information acquired.
  6. A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the students about what they've learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains.

WebQuests might be enhanced by wrapping motivational elements around the basic structure by giving the students a role play (e.g. scientist, reporter, detective), and a scenario to work within (e.g., You have been asked by the local government to brief him on the suitability of incinerators).

Apart from single discipline (single subject) WebQuests, teachers can also work in teams to produce interdisciplinary ones, for example the Biology and Home Economics teachers may decide to create a WebQuest on smoking to be used during both lessons."

  1. WebQuests can be done individually or in groups.
  2. WebQuests might be enhanced by wrapping motivational elements around the basic structure by giving the student a role to play (e.g., scientist, detective, reporter), simulated personae to interact with via e-mail, and a scenario to work within (e.g., you've been asked by the Secretary General of the UN to brief him on what's happening in sub-Saharan Africa this week.)
  3. Longer-term WebQuests can be thought about in at least two ways: (a) What thinking process is required to create them (b) What form they take once created
  4. Thinking skills that a Longer-term WebQuest activity might require include these (from Marzano, 1992):
    • Comparing - Identifying and articulating similarities and differences Classifying - Grouping things into definable categories based on attributes.
    • Inducing - Inferring unknown generalizations from observations. Deducing - Inferring unstated consequences and conditions from given principles and generalizations.
    • Analyzing errors - Identifying errors in one's own or others' thinking. Constructing support - Constructing a system of support or proof for an assertion. Abstraction - Identifying the theme or general pattern of information. Analyzing perspectives - Identifying personal perspectives about issues.

Imaginative WebQuest Projects

As mentioned earlier, "After completing a Longer-term WebQuest, a student would have analyzed a body of knowledge deeply, transformed it in some way, and d emonstrated an understanding of the material by creating something that others can respond to - on-line or off-line."

The forms that a longer term WebQuest might take are open to the imagination. Some ideas include:

  1. An interactive story or case-study created by students.
  2. A document that describes an analysis of a controversial situation, takes a stand, and invites users to add to or disagree with that stand.
  3. A searchable database in which the categories in each field are created by the students.
  4. A micro-world that users can navigate through that represents a physical space.
  5. A simulated person who can be interviewed on-line. The questions and answers would be generated by students who have deeply studied the person being simulated.

Benefits

Putting the results of their thinking-process back out onto the Internet:

  • Focuses students on a tangible and hi-tech task.
  • Gives them an audience to create for.
  • Opens up the possibility of getting feedback from that distant audience via an embedded e-mail form.

Assignment 9: Sharing Your WebQuest Gift

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 9: Sharing Your WebQuest Gift

  1. Work with you students to design a l onger-term WebQuest that results in a gift back to your local community or to our global community. You might brainstorm with your students as to useful topics to explore on the Internet and what final product might be helpful to the community. Share some of the ideas from the "Imaginative Webquest Projects" section and think about what form the final "gift to the community" might take. An idea might be to think about how this WebQuest "product" could be used in association with the service learning projects you explored in Module 2. You might even begin by contacting the people in the organization(s) you worked with and ask them what they need - what would be useful to them.
  2. Write 3-4 paragraphs about your conversation with your students and ideas they generated.
  3. Share the ideas with your learning circle and show their feedback.
  4. What help or resources might you need to complete this Longer-term WebQuest project?
  5. Write about or post on the Internet the final product of the WebQuest - your gift to the community.

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