How New Zealand connects young learners

When I first think of globally connected classrooms, I immediately think of various systems I’ve blogged on before like Skype Classroom, Quad-blogging or Google’s Connected Classrooms.  But I thought I’d bring you a connections story directly from New Zealand.

Success is messy

For me, the important point around global student discussion or in fact, any situation that introduces new perspectives to a classroom topic, is that of depth and what I like to call, messy learning. You may have seen this common graphic about success (left). Well, I like to think the same about learning. It is detrimental to education when anything or any person encourages the idea that learning is linear. The idea that at the beginning of learning, you don’t know something  and then after following a particular study path, you complete your learning by obtaining said knowledge. True deep learning is a social exercise. Multiple perspectives are always required if a true understanding is to be achieved. Perspective that won’t necessarily become apparent unless you involve other people in the journey.

The teachers who understand the importance of connecting students and classrooms to the world for new perspectives, still have at least three driving questions:

  1. How young can we start this process?;
  2. How best can we showcase positive and relevant online behaviour and;
  3. If we start young, how do we ensure safety?

PalmyTeacherThis is where I would like to introduce you to a kiwi called Stephen Baker. For two years, Stephen has run a hugely successful classroom Twitter chat every week on Wednesday afternoons. When I say successful, I really mean it. Over 230 elementary classroom accounts have been involved, and remember, New Zealand only has a population of 4 million! The chat can be found on Twitter under the hashtag: #KidsEdChatNZ and has it own account and also a website.

Every week, Stephen and his co-organisers, Marnel van der Spuy and John Willoughby, post the questions for the classes to answer on Wednesday, between 2 and 3 pm. The classroom accounts are added to a Twitter list which they then subscribe to so as to isolate the discussion from the rest of Twitter. Students respond to each other’s reflections and thoughts on topical issues. Questions have included:

  • What does good problem solving look like?
  • Should you be able to use Minecraft in your School/classroom? Convince us! How can it help learning?
  • How do your School’s values impact on your learning?
  • Can you think of any problems that you could solve with coding?

CVvw0j6UkAAn2brAlthough this is a national initiative, #KidsEdChat has introduced thousands of children as young a five, to a world of online connections and the learning and impact those connections bring about. They also get to see online discussion in the context of a real social media platform safely monitored by the classroom teacher.

Why not a #KidsEdChatGlobal? To have students discuss their learning and reflect on each others perspectives could have similar positive outcomes to our home grown equivalent. The question is, will you be the teacher to start it?

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EduWells2015Author: Richard Wells
Teaches grade 6 to 12 – Head of Technology at NZ High School
Top 40 in edublog awards 2013
Top 12 Blogger – The Global Search for Education
Known for Educational Infographics (see Posters above)
Presenter and also a father to 2 beautiful girls.
Twitter :  @EduWells

This post is written as part of The Huffington Post’s The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs: A series of questions that Cathy Rubin is asking several education bloggers. I’ll be sharing the link to her post that collects all of the responses. I’m excited to be part of this group of edu-bloggers.

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3 comments

  1. […] "Children and teens are communicating with people all over the world using skills that 99% of adults cannot comprehend," says Todd Finley (@finleyt). Todd introduces us to some of the young creators driving global conversations – "Take a look, it's being livestreamed!" Read More. How is New Zealand Connecting Young Learners? Don't miss Richard Wells' (@iPadWells) new book on NZ's education system due out in 2016, but in the meantime check out his blog on global conversations and the national initiative, #KidsEdChat, which has introduced thousands of children from 5 and up "to a world of online connections and the learning and impact those connections bring about." Read More. […]

  2. […] How is New Zealand Connecting Young Learners? Don’t miss Richard Wells’ (@iPadWells) new book on NZ’s education system due out in 2016, but in the meantime check out his blog on global conversations and the national initiative, #KidsEdChat, which has introduced thousands of children from 5 and up “to a world of online connections and the learning and impact those connections bring about.” Read More. […]

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