Julie Lindsay is one of the founders of the Flat Classroom Project, a conference series that focuses on connecting classrooms around the world with technology. The 2nd Flat Classroom Project Conference will be held in Beijing from February 25th-27th. beijingkids asked Lindsay a couple of questions about her history as an educator, what technology she uses, and what the future classroom will look like.
beijingkids: What tools do you use to create the ‘world-is-flat’ classroom?
Julie Lindsay: We base our project son what are called Web 2.0 tools, or the ‘read and write’ web. These tools are largely free, although not always, and allow for sharing and collaborating online. E.g. Wiki, educational network (Ning, Edmodo), blog, social bookmarking, microblogging.
BK: What new technology are you most excited about using and why?
JL: Virtual Worlds – being able to immerse students into a 3D virtual learning experience and providing the opportunity for them to construct their own learning within this. This is the next frontier for many of us. It is exciting as it brings in many skills, attitudes and behaviours we want to be processin as part of education. It is also fun!
BK: What do you see a world-class education as being in 5-10 years?
JL: World-class education should use technology that is mobile & ubiquitous and therefore transparent. It should be blended, allowing different experiences for the learner – online, offline, virtual, environmental etc, and allowing a combination of online and real community learning.
BK: In what small (or big) ways does technology make classrooms more effective for teaching kids, for instance, how can it make a history lesson or a science class more engaging?
JL:Technology allows the world to come to your classroom, and allows you to take your classroom to the world…..enough said!
BK: What advice would you give to parents to prepare their children for the technological future that lies ahead and the 21st century classroom?
JL:Learn to use the technology and not be afraid of it. Education on how to manage your own digital footprint and online profile is essential for ALL learners at all ages. Do not ban or block something just because you do not understand it. Be active in your child’s learning and be aware of what they are doing online.
BK: What kind of projects have you worked on in China?
JL: Well in China my students have completed the Flat Classroom Project (based on The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman where students study the flatteners and emerging technologies in global teams and produce a personal communication piece) as well as the Digiteen Project (a global collaborative project where students research digital citizenship and design and implement an action back in their school community). I also have students working within a global classroom that is a blended learning environment. They are senior students studying the Diploma subject Information Technology in a Global Society. They interact with other students also doing this subject around the world and collaborate on projects.
BK: Can you outline some of the projects you’ve done in Zambia, Bangladesh, Kuwait or Qatar?
JL:Well, we are talking about 12 years ago for Zambia when telecommunications and Internet-based projects were still very new. During those times and also into the Kuwait and Bangladesh eras I worked on Global School Network projects, in particular Cyberfair, and iEARN projects, in particular Learning Circles. These projects emanated from the USA and were aimed at joining teachers and classrooms together, but at the same time focused on individual work rather than collaborative work. Communication was based on email, or largely non-existent. Flat Classroom projects now use different technologies to connect and communicate and collaborate to create new products and understandings amongst learning communities.