weekly IRC's (Interactive Relay Chat) provide an excellent on-line forum
for teachers and students to 'discuss' world problems and current affairs
in 'real time' with people from many different countries via the Internet.
Sample topics and discussions are available by subscribing to KIDPROJECT.
This project illustrates another type of interpersonal exchange which Harris
calls 'global classroom'.
Patricia Weeg's Global
Classroom is an excellent example of how student involvement with
online friends and projects helps create a unique style of learning that
emphasizes resources, relationships, and exploration (what one writer refers
to as 'the five R's in 'The
Internet Style of Learning') .
Students from Leo
Ussak Elementary School in the Canadian Arctic and children in Hawaii
were joined by two Arctic adventurers (who were crossing Northern Canada
by dogsled) for an online discussion of events and conditions in their respective
countries. A transcript of their IRC
'chat' is available from their school web site. Later the students were
able to follow the progress of the dogsled team via e-mail updates from
the Internet. (See The
Hanson-Hignell Team On the Trail).
Similarly, the British Council's Internlink project is an exciting initiative which links schools in the UK and New Zealand in Internet- related projects. They have an interesting archive of their on-line projects to date.
Thomas Peters from The Netherlands European School's Project discusses his experience of Internationalisation Through E-mail as well as his own experience in a Danish/Dutch exchange Das Bild der Anderen, a project for beginning learners of German.
Numerous other examples of global classroom projects can
be found on educational listserv discussion groups such as KIDLINK
and the European School's Project..
In addition, there are a number of exemplary history /social studies projects
available from the University of Illinois Web site "Judy
Harris Network-Based Educational Activity Collection" (with projects
organized by content area and activity structure).
There are numerous articles describing the potential of
Internet-based projects to motivate student interest and involvement--nowhere
more so than with history and social studies students. (See 'Global
Literacy in a Gutenberg Culture'.) A secondary school teacher from the
US describes her own students' experiences of previous
Another kind of interpersonal project which Harris calls
'electronic mentoring' is best illustrated in her own article "The
Electronic Emissary: Bringing together Students, Teachers, and Subject Matter
Experts" Such electronic emissaries are an ideal Internet-based
resource for students and teachers of history. ( See
sample posting.) To help subject matter experts and teachers contact
one other, Greg Jones and Judy Harris have created an online service Electronic Emissary Home Page.
ELECTRONIC MENTORING (continued)
A history teacher from Redmond Washington and his students
have participated in a 'telementoring' project with graduate students from
a nearby university (see Overlake-University
of Washington Telementoring Project) . For an interesting and frank
discussion of last year's project read "The
Students in Delmar School in Maryland (with the help of
their teacher Patricia Weeg) are creating a distance learning course on
the History of Maryland in response to a request from an online friend in
Russia. (See A
Maryland Project for Olya) The course includes e-mail materials on the
First Marylanders, European Arrivals, Colonial Maryland as well as an IRC
with their Russian student. Opportunities for such virtual classrooms with
students participating as 'telementors' opens new vistas of how we can use
this technology in our history classrooms.
QUESTION and ANSWER SERVICES
Letters on Spanish Texas is a research
project on Spanish exploration in the US, done for fourth grade students.
Early on in the 1994-95 School Year, Martha Kate King, a teacher in the
Beaumont School District, asked the participants in a local electronic forum
for information regarding the Spanish explorers. She felt that her fourth
grade students had more an interest in the period that exceeded the information
provided in her textbooks. Two of the forum's participants began doing some
research on their own and sent e-mail letters in response to questions posed
by Martha Kate's students about the times and ways of the Spanish exploration.
Here is published some of their correspondence, a worthwhile extension of
a study of Texas's history.
Combining the features of a 'question and answer service'
with the more fanciful characteristics of an impersonation project is the
Chatback Trust's recent online initiative "Victorian
Lives and Letters". Here students of history and literature from
schools anywhere in the world are invited to contact their moderator--a
certain C. Dickens with questions about life and literature in Victorian
England. Interested parties may subscribe to the discussion group by following
instructions available at the Chatback Trust's WWW pages. (Again valuable
background information on the history and literary works of the period is
available at Brown University's excellent site "The
Other examples of Internet-based question and answer exchanges
can be found in various educational discussion groups. Using e-mail, students
seeking information about a particular country, its people or customs can
contact people from or living in the target culture. While browsing our
e-mail archives we discovered messages
from several people who were willing to share their knowledge and experiences
with social studies classes on-line.