New Project Brings World into Classroom
Sharing science experiment data with a classroom in Darch or as far off as the United States is part of an exciting project evolving in the Preparatory School. Year 4 Teacher Joel Birch is the creator of the Big Round Classroom Project, which aims to bring the world into the classroom through online learning. Mr Birch is taking advantage of the popularity of social networking website Facebook and online blogging to share ideas and engage classrooms in other parts of the world.
“The project aims to break down children’s perception that technology doesn’t just mean computers, that computers are not just for games and that computers at school are more than just typewriters,” he said.
The Year 4 class’ first online activity was to plant bok choy seeds and test the effects of different conditions on the way they grow. Through their blog, the students explained their methods, posted photos of the process and invited other groups to join in and share their results. A classroom in Baltimore, USA, who was interested to compare how the climate in the different hemispheres would affect the plants, joined them.
Another collaborative activity involves the classroom mascot, Christ Church Bear. Originally from Christ Church College at Oxford University, England (where he was purchased), Christ Church Bear’s travels are blogged by students, who take him home and on various adventures. “Christ Church Bear’s blog is in very formal English so it becomes a fun way of teaching and applying,” he said.
Recently, Mr Birch presented a workshop on the project at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong. The international education conference, which examined the current shift in book-based learning and the need for more dynamic sources of information, provided the ideal forum for Mr Birch to discuss and involve people in the Big Round Classroom.
Mr Birch believes there is need for a shifting model in education and that the project also allows users to tap into the knowledge and expertise of professionals outside the education sector.