Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Students take part in 'live' international school design workshop

Today I helped arrange for three students from Leading Edge High School to part in an international school design workshop today using the Internet for live international links. In a workshop organised by Professor Stephen Heppell, a large group of students from a school in Kent in the U.K., were spending a day helping design new schools. They are also shooting a video about what NOT to do in new schools and things they would like included.
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Kent is the largest education authority in the UK and is embarking on a £1.8 billion rebuild of all its secondary school and the voice of learners is central to that process.
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As part of their workshop they questioned students in Tasmania where it was midnight and very cold and followed on by contacting the Cayman Islands where it was 7.00a.m. and hot. Using SKYPE on a MacBook there was an excellent clear video and audio signal for the 25 minute 'live' question and answer session.
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The UK students quizzed our students on many aspects of their school, from the number of students, what classrooms were like, how much outdoor learning they did, the types of computers they used, the range of subjects, what they would change about the layout of their school, through to what the lunch arrangements were (as well as the menus).
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As the students relaxed they became more confident and chatted happily away to their UK counterparts, who obviously they had never met before. If we would have been able to carry on longer I truely believe that the conversations would have got even more detailed! Students do have ideas about what their ideal learning spaces should look like!
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This was a really successful web conference and really demonstrated the effectiveness and immediacy of real live commuication and research using the Internet. The feedback was excellent and it was blindingly obvious that our students would love to be able to more of this type of work. It really is the way forward and really creates relevence to the learning process.
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