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About this Site


This site serves two purposes: (1) To educate teachers about the flat world and how it can enhance their teaching. (2) To connect teachers and their classrooms with another classroom, or classrooms, from across the neighborhood, state, country, or across the planet for the purpose of collaboration.

What is a Flat World?


external image Worldisflat.gif It is "...a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration on research and work in real time, without regard to geography, distance or, in the near future, even language."

This quote--in fact, all of the quotes on this page--comes from The New York Times Magazine article titled It's a Flat World, After All by Thomas Friedman. However, the concept of a flat world comes from his book The World is Flat. In the book, Friedman describes ten "flatteners," or global forces that helped to level the global playing field. The focus of this site is flattener #2, the Netscape IPO, which took place on August 9, 1996. According to Friedman, the offering resulted in two important things. First, it brought the Internet alive and made it "...so that Grandma could use it and her grandchildren could use it." Second, it enabled more people to communicate in more ways than ever before.

If we fast forward ten years we can see that there are increasingly more opportunities for communicating and collaboration on today's Internet. Technologies like wikis allow users to join in the creation of web pages while blogs allow users to post their thoughts, link to other bloggers, and receive feedback on their entries. And it doesn't end there: you can share your photos online with Flickr, use Writely to create a shared document, share your bookmarks with Furl, and, well, the list goes on. What's more, one doesn't need to possess great technical skills to learn to use these technologies. Consider this, if you can effectively use email, including attaching photos and documents, you can easily be publishing work to a blog or a wiki.

Education in a Flat World


So what does all this mean for the classroom teacher? First, it's important to note that today's kids are avid users of the interactive web. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project report, 87% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are online. They are using the Internet for research, to communicate, play games, get news, shop, and much more. 57% of these teens could be considered Content Creators--they have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations. Check out the awesome video on digital kids!

With classrooms full of tech-savvy students, it makes sense that technologies like blogs and wikis should fit naturally into a classroom teacher's repertoire of teaching tools. That's where this site comes in. Its purpose is to connect students using these technologies, or looking to use these technologies, with students throughout the world for the purpose of collaborating on projects.

Many sites, like ePals, are already doing this. However, this site takes it a little farther. All of the projects here should require the completion of a product, be it a physical or virtual one. And the completion should be a collaborative effort between students, not teachers, in different places using the tools of the Flat World.

Built on a Wikispaces wiki, the site itself is meant to be a collaborative project. Any educator--teacher, professor, administrator--can contribute their knowledge to any of the sections to make it more informative or easier to use. The ability to add to the site also allows teachers to create their own pages for their projects. Project ideas are limitless and the wiki provides a place for the students to collaborate (see the discussion link above) and a medium for creating their product. As you can see, it's possible to add images, links, and other formatting to the page. In addition, users can also upload other media, such as digital video.

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Citations

Friedman, T (2005, April, 3). It's a Flat World, After All. New York Times Magazine, Retrieved July 30, 2006, from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/magazine/03DOMINANCE.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5090&en=cc2a003cd936d374&ex=1270267200

Pink, D.H. (2005, May). Why the World is Flat. Wired Magazine, Retrieved July 30, 2006, from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.05/friedman.html?pg=3

Lenhart, A & Madden M (2005, November 2). Pew Internet: Teen Content Creators and Consumers. Retrieved July 30, 2006, from Pew Internet Web site: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/166/report_display.asp

Lenhart, A & Madden M (2005, July 27). Pew Internet: Teens and Technology. Retrieved July 30, 2006, from Pew Internet Web site: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/162/report_display.asp




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''Today, the most profound thing to me is the fact that a 14-year-old in Romania or Bangalore or the Soviet Union or Vietnam has all the information, all the tools, all the software easily available to apply knowledge however they want.''