Rationale, Support and Project Management


Being conscious of the pressures on teachers and the need to make innovative work like this conform to curriculum demands in the UK, the project management has been 'hands-off' wherever possible. Teachers have been encouraged to negotiate with each other to select and devise activities which fit in with their existing syllabuses.

Initially, the schools were all paired on a US/UK basis (with appropriate matching of the different age phases) and to date most activities have taken place within those pairings.

Teachers were encouraged to develop good working relationships with each other (and between their respective groups of students) and to develop activities which were appropriate and of value to both partners. These could follow either a 'focussed' model (fully planned collaborative activity leading to a specific goal) or 'extended classroom' model (working together on a less structured basis, to add an extra dimension to each other's learning), as they wished.

In the 'primary pair', two teachers in each school have been involved, working with whole classes. In the other schools, just one teacher has been actively involved, working with a class or set group, or with smaller groups.

Management and support

Both BT and their American partners were actively engaged in managing and monitoring the early stages of the project, and both contracted educational consultants (Melchior Ed. Tech. in the UK and Global SchoolNet in the US) to provide specialist support and day-to-day management.

During the initial phase, much of the work involved establishing relationships, and making sure that the necessary equipment and infrastructure was installed and working. Project-wide communications facilities were set up (a listserver and a discussion group) and a wide ranging list of potentially suitable topics for project activities was generated.

As the project has progressed, email and audio conference calls have become the main tools for keeping people in touch.

There were different approaches to the provision of equipment, and also project management style, between the UK and the US. In order to ensure that the project has relevance and application beyond its own time frame and participants, and to explore the different options available, a certain lack of standardisation of equipment has been deliberately built in to the project. Therefore, the US and UK participants have different videoconferencing systems. UK schools made use of BT CampusWorld's facilities (and later, BT Connect to Business), whereas the US schools make their own arrangements for Internet connectivity. BT provided each participating school with a laptop computer for use by the main classroom teacher involved in the project. In terms of project management, the US approach was consistently more prescriptive than BT's.

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