Portfolio 4

Application of Multicultural Knowledge

“Tapped In” to the World
As part of a required semester-long 7th grade Technology Applications course, the students will become members of an international online community, and work with students from a variety of countries in a safe, monitored environment at TappedIn.org (Tapped In). Jim Klein voiced the objective of all valuable education during a conversation at the 29th Annual National Educational Computing Conference, “You know the students are ‘getting it’ when they are able to put themselves into the environment and into what they are learning. They invest themselves in a community and not just a grade.” (Klein, 2008). It is my hope that my students will find value in this international experience and come away from it with changed views of the world and of themselves.
Working through the social network provided by teachers who are members of the online collaborative community of practice known as TI, students will have the opportunity to build relationships through shared projects, become familiar with the customs and beliefs of people from other parts of the world, and ask and answer questions in both synchronous and asynchronous formats.
After communication between the teachers involved in the project, the classes will have access twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to threaded discussions as well as to real-time chat facilities. The teachers will monitor all discussions and provide guidance as needed.
Drawing from the 16,105 educators who are members of TappedIn, teachers who are members of the Collaboration Community Special Interest Group (SIG) will be contacted regarding interest in collaborating with students in a small rural community in Texas. The teachers will meet online, using TappedIn, and agree on the general guidelines of the project. Due to the lack of language ability of the Texas students, the population will consist of peers learning English as a foreign language.
Students will be introduced to TappedIn and the online format early in the semester, using it in the Technology Lab on a daily basis. They will be introduced to the concept of threaded discussions, and will have assignments that involve them contributing to discussions on a regular basis. They will also have access to the online chat function of TI, and will be given the following guidelines:
  • Tapped In is the meeting place for our class. It is where we interact, discuss the activities for the week, share ideas, offer and receive advice. Please make your presence known by joining in the discussion.
  • Responding to the assignment:
  • Your response should be relevant to the current assignment.
  • Your response should reflect thought and understanding of the assignment, as shown by your comments and the examples you use.
  • Responding to postings of others:
  • Specific responses are relevant to the topic under discussion and to remarks in the original post
  • Remarks serve to extend the discussion through questioning or adding additional information or introducing new information relevant to the original message.
  • Courtesy
  • Remarks are positive and courteous especially when offering advice for improving one's work.
  • Once the students are comfortable with the format, and have demonstrated the ability to function efficiently therein, the classes will be brought together. Initially, discussions will revolve around getting to know one another, asking questions based on research both online and off, and with the guidance of the teachers involved. Since the teachers receive transcripts of every chat that takes place in the K-12 classroom environment of TI, these will be monitored for appropriate behavior.
During the second six-weeks of the semester, the groups decide on a project (or projects) in which they would like to participate. Students will have the freedom to determine what they will research together, and how they will present their findings to other members of the community. Resources they will be able to access include: VoiceThread (VoiceThread, 2008), Animoto (Animoto Productions, 2008), Wikispaces (Tangient LLC, 2008), and GoogleDocs (Google, 2008). If students find other methods they would like to use, these will be assessed for appropriateness and if the teachers and students agree, will be included in the offerings.
The long-term goal of the project is for students in various countries to expand their social network and to put names and faces to what has (most likely) been an amorphous knowledge up to this point. Membership in the online community will not cease with the end of the course, but will be left open so relationships can continue to evolve while still under the mentorship of the teachers.
In the discussion today regarding a new website (Edtags.org) Professor Chris Dede of Harvard said, “Education now involves shifting the knowledge and skills society values.” (Dede & Seldow, 2008). It is in this spirit that the Tapped In project is offered: to help today’s students prepare for the world of tomorrow. As Ian Jukes says, quoting Margaret Mead, “never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world – indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” (Jukes, 2008).