From Consumption to Creation (with ICT Facilitation)

Flat Classroom Global Project

In the Autumn 2011, Dr Katya Toneva, a member of MirandaNet HANDSON Team, was involved in the Flat Classroom Project (FCP) [1] as the Project Manager for the International Community School (ICS), London.

We believe that the Flat Classroom findings will support the key theme of our HANDSON Project “Creativity and ICT”.

The general goal of FCP outlined in [2] is: “to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, two or more classes are joined virtually to become one “large classroom” online.

The Flat Classroom Project is featured in Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” [3].

Web 2.0 applications and social software used within the Flat Classroom Project have significantly changed the way of using computers from consumption to creation:

  • Stimulate the learner’s creativity by enhancing the spontaneous and playful dimension of learning (via wikis, blogs, online forums and other collaborative Web 2.0 tools);
  • Encourage creativity via edutainment (video storyboards, online presentations via Elluminate web-conferencing software, etc.).

Within this collaborative project we have explored a deep framing issue: how the students and the teachers think about education itself.

The Flat Classroom environment and the embedded pedagogical approaches provided the opportunity to help students move from being consumers to creators of their educations.

The school took part in the project on a particular topic: “How ICT could improve people’s lives”. This was linked to the English curriculum.  The idea was that students could develop their English language proficiency and academic language skills through researching, collecting, analysing, evaluating, reporting and presenting information via the  virtual Flat Classroom. The  required final product was  a video storyboard  on  the  project topic.

We observed a radical shift for both students and teachers. It was about reconsidering the notion of ownership in education and developing a support system that enabled students to take control of their own learning.

Students became co-designers of the final product and partners in the learning process. The Flat Classroom created an atBloom's Digital Taxonomymosphere of “we are in this together.” When a student asked for help, there always was someone who offered support and solutions.

The project promoted the attitude that students played a large role in the educational experience. It was about having the students actively engaged in creative activities facilitated by technology and taking ownership of their learning.

Dr Toneva reflected on pedagogical theories and approaches that underpin the project activities, e.g., “social constructivism” and “Bloom’s revised digital taxonomy” [4].  In particular, she has considered digital tools that support higher order thinking skills, such as “analysing”, “evaluating” and “creating”.

Recently, Dr Toneva has outlined Bloom’s revised digital taxonomy in her interactive presentation that she delivered at a workshop at St Mary’s University College.

We believe that the above approaches fit well with the HANDSON objectives, e.g.:

  • Enabling collaborative strategies;
  • The integration of ICT tools in teaching and learning;
  • Matching tools to pedagogical practices;
  • Promoting learning by doing.

References:

[1] Flat Classroom Project web-site: http://www.flatclassroomproject.net/about.html

[2] K. Toneva and J. Cuthell – Using “Liminal Spaces” for Web-Based Collaboration and Enhancing Learning.

[3] T. Friedman – The World is Flat book, 3rd edition, Chapter 13, “If it’s not happening it’s because you’re not doing it”, pp. 501-503, 2011

[4] Image credit: http://digitallearningworld.com/tag/blooms-digital-taxonomy

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