Monday, November 14, 2011

Ian Chia & Heidi Siwak Present "I Live Over Here" At The Global Education Conference

Ian Chia, Heidi Siwak & Class 62 will present "I Live Over Here," a project based learning collaboration I was honored to participate in along with Esa Helttula. Ian & Heidi will present our global collaboration at the Global Education Conference November 14, 2011. The conference runs November 14-18, 24 hours a day. You can log onto the site and participate here no matter where in the world you live.
How cool & connected is that?
From the Global Education Conference site:
"This session is a discussion of the "I Live Over Here" web and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad platform as a tool to introduce global, culturally diverse student groups to meet and share learning through interactive 360 photo panoramas and short blogs, and a project-based learning approach for deeper learning of multiple digital literacies for classes that decide to create their own "DIY app" within the platform.  
The "I Live Over Here" project is both a Wordpress based blogging site as well as an iOS app (for iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone), featuring collaborative content from contributing classrooms around the world.  This project came about through a collaboration between Heidi Siwak, a Grade 6 & 7 teacher at Dundas Central, Ontario Canada and her class of Grade 6 students, and three collaborators from Being Prudence, a digital education publisher (Ian Chia in Melbourne, Australia; Esa Helttula in Espoo, Finland; Cynthia Jabar in New York City, USA.) 
 Since April 2011, Heidi's Grade 6 class has been developing their own iPhone app through a project-based learning approach, creating all the content for their own tourism app for the town of Dundas. Their inquiry project has involved multiple cross-curricula strands: literacy (researching and writing marketing texts for local attractions in Dundas); numeracy through real-world skills involved in digital media and the maths involved in drawing computer graphics; geography through the use of the app's GPS-based mapping systems; digital photography and image manipulation for the photographic galleries and the GPS based augmented reality camera system; visual arts and interactive design for the app's user-interface; and ICT skills in learning/using digital content management systems (Wordpress and Google Sites) for project management and data entry and digital media asset management. 
Since then, the project has grown to include a special-ed Grace 4-6 class in Cambridge, Canada developing a tourism app/website of their town and a Grade 5 science class in Ohio, USA developing a biology science app/website of their school's butterfly garden investigating the ecology of the biosystem for the garden. 
A high school Indonesian language class in Perth, Australia is planning to create an app/website of local Perth resources for the Indonesian immigrant population in Perth, by researching relevant English speaking businesses and community resources and translating/creating content in the Indonesian language. 
We are moving onto the next phase of the project, where we integrate global classrooms of co-creators into a common, shared, open and semi-personalized "platform" to encourage further global connections between contributors and collaborative learning. 
Our aim is to build a global base of culturally relevant creative-commons licensed curriculum by organic contributions, along a similar approach to the Rhizomatic/Connectivism model of learning as discussed by Dave Cormier's "Community as curriculum" research. ("Rhizomatic Education: Community As Curriculum" Dave Cormier - Innovate: Journal of Online Education, v4 n5 Jun-Jul 2008 ) 
The project's has two primary approaches: 1) In order for K-12 students to be introduced to a connected "global classroom", the barriers of entry must be sufficiently easy to introduce gradual experimentation with relevant engagement to multiple systems of education in different countries. "Your" local community as a subject area is predominantly a starting point for social studies within the K-8 domain. 
Blogging is also increasingly encouraged as a means to engage learners for early language acquisition skills in the elementary level, with evidence in the US, UK, Canada and Australia pointing to concrete benefits with participatory commenting leading to strong student engagement. However, a number of education blogging systems are local "walled gardens" (such as Australia's Vicnet in public education), protecting students from a global participation balancing concerns of cyber-safety/cyber-wellness. 
This poses problems for meeting/exchanging learning for global partners. The global blogging portion of I Live Over Here offers a free, and limited system of blogging with a focus on a few posts from each participant class on their local community. They are encouraged to use the $2 iOS app from Occipital called 360 Panorama to capture accompanying 360 degree virtual paroramas of their local school and community, using their text to accompany a simple, immersive experience of *where they live.* This offers schools the ability to "test the waters" with collaborative global blogging in a safe environment where participants are other schools from around the world.  
Contributors are pinpointed on a Google world map within the website and app, and commenting is enabled for students to comment on other classroom's contributions from around the world. The system is designed to encourage learning digital citizenship skills through blogging and commenting, discoverability of global participants and understanding more about each others' local cultural contexts, and provide pathways to encourage further global collaboration outside of the project between interested schools using Skype, Quad Blogging and other means. 2) Classes who wish to delve into deeper project-based learning can participate in growing streams of inquiry focus. 
For example, the tourism apps offer far deeper engagement in cross-curricula skills to create content for their local community. The science stream hopes to grow various apps of content about local ecology and energy systems from around the world, allowing an audience to browse and download free content created by these classes. Science classrooms can build upon particular tagged streams (eg. butterfly ecosystems) and collaborate to learn about systems in various countries. 
The language component allows learners to create content in different languages, opening opportunities for foreign language exchange as well as offering resources to students impacted by ongoing trends in global migration. 
We are also investigating the opportunity for location based storytelling for an arts stream, encompassing visual and performance art integrated with new media transliteracies.   
We envisage that the project-based learning DIY app building component of the project will have a nominal fee per classroom (possibly $15 per class regardless of student numbers) in order to support the ongoing hosting costs of the more comprehensive media assets and technology for the PBL technology, and welcome ongoing discussion with global educators in the developed world about practicalities in light of austerity measures and cutbacks in the US and Europe. 
For interested participants in the developing world, the nominal fee would be far lower in direct proportion to the means of the participants, and we welcome learning about what would be practical for schools in these regions. 
The session will explain the deep levels of engagement in student learning through global collaboration thus far, and discuss and demonstrate the next phase of this project. We hope to meet potential educators and classrooms in this session and learn what would make this project more useful and relevant to various regions' contexts. 
A presentation by Heidi Siwak on the learning achieved in her classroom through the development of the initial pilot app. This was presented at the 3rd Reform Symposium online conference in 2011. 
A wiki where we have been documenting the ongoing process of open development by the student learners, and the ongoing curriculum resources that the classrooms are contributing to. 
Our roadmap for this next phase of the project showing ideas and research behind our thinking." -Ian Chia
SESSION TIMES November 14, 2011:
Espoo: 12am
NYC: 5pm
Dundas: 5pm
Melbourne: 9am

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