Overview
Introduction

The Global Connections project began in the summer of 1997 with 10 schools setting out to explore the potential for classroom to classroom collaboration and exchanges. Five of these schools were in the UK and five in the USA, with one primary, one middle and three secondary schools in each country. The project was initiated by BT Education and an American Foundation, and is currently scheduled to run until the summer of 2000.
Map showing UK schools
Map showing USA schools Whilst the project makes use of a range of complementary telecommunications technologies in the classroom, the major technology focus has been on videoconferencing.


Aims, Objectives & Rationale

The main objectives of the project are:-
  • to explore the use of international videoconferencing links in the classroom, both in relation to the curriculum and in relation to other telecommunications technologies;

  • to evaluate both the benefits and the pitfalls, recording the experience and disseminating the knowledge gained (via the Web), for the benefit of other teachers who wish to develop videoconferencing links.

More information about the rationale, support, and project management is available.

Activities

The project activities undertaken by the participating schools have been diverse, and include:-
trio Controversial issues. Debate topics researched by combined US/UK teams, and presentations prepared, culminating in formal debates by videoconference.
Local legends, stories, and literature. Involving oral work, drama, writing, drawing, and exchanges of views and perspectives. show doll
Questionnaires / data analysis. (Capture and exchange of data, followed by analysis.)
Newspapers. Examples of US and UK newspaper articles are exchanged, and the differences in style and practice explored together.
More information about these and other topics, as well as the more informal communications of a broad 'cultural exchange' nature can be found in the activities section. A brief history of the first year of the project, showing how work was planned, is also available. grin

Problems and Successes

In any project involving a group of people from different backgrounds and experience who have never worked together before and who are spread out across two countries, it can take time and effort to build up good working relationships and iron out technical problems.

(The advice & tips section contains useful information for others starting similar projects.)
Despite the problems encountered, both staff and students involved are positive about their experiences with Global Connections. The students' enthusiasm comes mainly from the close interaction with students from another country and culture: videoconferencing is an extremely useful medium for building relationships. Chipeta Class Party

Conclusion

The clear impression of staff involved in the project is that there are definite educational benefits to be derived from projects like this, although they may be difficult to map to specific attainment targets in some cases. Despite staff changes in some schools at the end of the first year, the project has continued to flourish, and we now plan to expand it to involve more schools.

August 1998 (updated August 1999)

Contact information, credits, and acknowledgements

GCProduced by Melchior Telematics for BT Community Partnerships © 1998-9