By: Jaclyn Norton
Jennifer Bevill knows how to create a global classroom. The “Peace Project” bridged geographic borders between high school students at LSU Laboratory HighSchool in Baton Rouge, LA and Odori High School in Japan by utilizing digital technology to build cultural understanding and bring awareness to issues surrounding tolerance and peace at both schools.
The Peace Project earned first place in the Knowledge Building and Critical Thinking category at the Microsoft Partners In Learning U.S Forum this August. She is one of 16 educators who will represent the U.S. in Prague, Czech Republic this November at the Partners in Learning 2012 Global Forum.
The two high schools interacted using SkyDrive, Skype, PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Bing and audio/video editing software to communicate educational and social experiences with each other. Bevill utilized blended learning throughout the course of the project.
“First, the teacher in Japan and I used technology as our communication tool. Next, my students used online storage, SkyDrive, to exchange work and access common files needed to communicate among group members and students in Japan. Finally, I used a modular internet based course, Moodle, to provide notes, tips, rubrics, and all other guides the students would need to access at any time while creating videos and other media to communicate with Odori High School.”
International communication gave students the flexibility to share their own studies with Japanese students. Bevill said it motivated them to learn Japanese, work harder in their foreign language courses, and engage in a personalized learning experience.
“I was so pleased each time a student would approach me with a topic they had studied on their own time regarding peace or Japan…My students were able to see the students in Japan and learn about the similarities and differences in their lives. Conversing with the Japanese students who speak English really made an impact on my students and motivated them to learn some Japanese and work harder in their foreign language courses.”
Beyond building cross-cultural competencies, Bevill’s students decided what Information Communications Technology (ICT) skills would be most effective to overcome language barriers and best convey their message with Japanese students. While an initial struggle, Bevill said her students soon became comfortable expressing themselves through multiple sources. These skills are critical components of 21st Century Digital Communication tools, essential for preparing todays students for success at college and in the globalizing workforce.
“With the technology available today, our world is becoming a smaller place. Due to our global economy, students will have to use ICT to communicate with people from all over the world. The workforce will have to be able to work with others who have different cultures and customs, and be familiar with how to be appropriate and acceptable. Using ICT to overcome language barriers is a very important skill that will open many doors for employees in the future,” said Bevill.
Students today need to be equipped with tools allowing them to confidently communicate across cultures and navigate through barriers which can inhibit collaboration and mutual understanding. Bevill said digital technology educates students about global citizenship in a personalized learning environment, while preparing them with skills of the future.
“When we educate students, we want them to be successful in today’s world and that involves educating them on global citizenship and cross-cultural understanding.”
By: Jaclyn Norton