Friday, March 21, 2008

Eastview M.S.: Videoconferencing with the World

At one middle school in White Plains, NY, videoconferencing has changed the lives of teachers and students around the world. Jody Kennedy and Jan Zanetis report in Learning Connections (PDF) on the changes at Eastview Middle School after 9/11 and the huge role that videoconferencing played in the development of the Global Run project.

Initially, Eastview Middle School teachers used interactive videoconferencing (IVC) after 9/11 to increase their students' awareness of other cultures and perspectives. They engaged in projects, "language exchanges, music presentations" and other cultural experiences. Soon though, especially as teachers and students became more comfortable with the technology, teachers used IVC to link their curriculum with "experts in the field...people from all walks of life -- sharing their experience, cultures, and traditions." Students had powerful exchanges with young HIV/AIDS sufferers in Africa, Afghanistan war refugees, Sudanese child soldiers and volunteers in relief efforts around the world.

As their awareness grew, students became more empathetic and needed an outlet for their new passions and understandings of the world. The Global Run project was started in 2005 as a "global service-learning project" that raises money to address the growing shortage of fresh drinking water worldwide. Those who participate in Global Run walk to raise money for organizations like Rotary International and TANDBERG. Eastview teachers and students collaborate and communicate with teachers and students at 111 schools in Pakistan, Sweden, India, Senegal, England and the U.S. throughout the year through video conferences, video on demand, simulations, podcasts, blogs and wikis. Interdisciplinary content created by Global Run teachers include math lessons on miles walked and money raised, science lessons on health and body issues, and foreign language discussions.

Teachers have created working relationships and personal friendships across the world and regularly expand their technology skills to meet challenges and expand their contact with each other. More about this excellent program can be found at the White Plains Middle School-Eastview Campus website and in a video of the 2006 Global Run project.

SOURCE: "Developing Global Citizens: The Global Run Project" (PDF) 11/2007
photo courtesy of laszlo-photo, used under this Creative Commons license

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