How did we communicate globally before technology? Was sending a message in a bottle a valid way of communicating? Did it empower the sender?
Is it an interesting concept to think about how far we have come as technology has continued to develop since the first telegram in 1844. Since then technology has continued to improve we have used the phone ( thanks Alexander Graham Bell) , radio, records, mobile phones, fibre optics, email, Spam, social networks, Googling.
All of these landmarks changed the way that we communicated. Until 2009 when something went wrong… A carrier pigeon carries 4gb of data quicker than broadband did over 60 miles! Umm that wasn’t supposed to happen…
Well that has been solved and pigeons are no longer as fast as technology ( apart from free hotel WIFI!). In fact now their is an explosion of communication tools as we now communicate over long distances to large groups of people instantly with Skype, Factime, Twitter, Webinars etc.
Going back to the idea of sending a message in bottle Students understand how easy it can be to connect with others. After all it is what many are used to. They have grown up seeing their parents have face to face conversations with others who live on the other side of the world. However what students need to be shown is the true potential of connections. Our role as connected educators is to empower the children to use technology to it’s full potential. I suppose it is like giving your bottle a solar powered motor, a GPS and a steering wheel. It changes the game somewhat.
The classroom is flat. Our role needs to be empower the young learner so that they are connecting for a real purpose. That way they are developing their 21st Century skills of :
- Critical Thinking
I suppose it comes down to making meaningful connections. There is no need to simply throw a message in a bottle out to sea and hope it makes it somewhere. We need to be clear and concise in the connections that we make and the connections that we make for our students. There is no one size fits all tool to do this. The tool will change for the class and the teacher. It comes down to thinking about the fact that:
Any tool that is worthy of consideration by a teacher should first clearly represent how it will impact student learning: What will my students be able to do when using XYZ? How will using XYZ in my classroom create a richer learning experience for my students?
Creating meaningful global connections can transform classrooms. Such as Bridget Suvansri who connected with an independent school in Karachi after reading I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, The program was for students to create meaningful connections with peers from a different culture and develop a better understanding about the world. The benefits were amazing for the Bridget and her class:
- Students develop empathy through interaction.
- Video exchange taps into different learning styles.
- Global collaboration gives students a new audience.
But as I mentioned earlier what works in one classroom might not work in another. It is up to educators to experiment and try out tools, connecting with other like minded educators also helps. Creating a PLN so that they you learn from each other and share your experiences. My PLN helps me constantly. Just this morning I gained a further insight into the blogging platform Seesaw. Thanks PLN!
Which brings me back to connections. My students have been making connections this year. The connections are purposeful and have meaning and are giving them opportunities to use these 21st Century Skills in practice. They created a film about our school and class and shared it to the world. The idea was the children’s. They created the StoryBoard behind it. They took the photos and recorded the voice overs. What you see in the video is 95% of their work from start to finish. I think a pretty amazing achievement for a class of 5 and 6 year olds working together for the first time.
The video below contains their video and also shares the process of making the video. I did not create the video but our amazing Educational Technology Coaches did to share to our Lower School during a recent Staff Meeting. Thanks to Tanya and Stephan for doing this. You have done an awesome job.
But this is my class that has been empowered by using technology to connect with others. Is it like a message in a bottle? I think not. What are your thoughts?