Global Gateway

Atlas, it’s time for your bath by woodleywonderworks, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Photo by  woodleywonderworks 

For my EC&I 831 final project I am creating a wiki to collect and share resources that support and foster students’ global citizenship. The idea for a wiki stemmed from my work on my Master’s project which is exploring the use of digital communication and collaboration tools to enrich global citizenship development. My passion for this topic came from an amazing journey last year connecting our Grade 3 students with a village in Peru.

While researching global citizenship I found I was gathering so much information and so many resources. As exciting as it was I struggled to contain it all. I was eager to share all that I discovered but using social bookmarks was not enough to group, organize and categorize all the pieces. Although I had never created a wiki before I was drawn to the fact I could collate many different types of resources in one place and incorporate a collaborative component.

Developing this wiki has been a multifaceted adventure of learning. Although at times the learning curve has been steep and overwhelming, I have been leaning on my PLN to help guide me through some challenges.

I also used Twitter to spread the word about the Google Form and Google Doc I created to crowd-source for my wiki. I am still learning how to crowd-source effectively and which strategies produce the most results. My Google Form to collect online tools for supporting global citizenship generated some great suggestions that I added to my wiki. The Google Doc however did not fly at all. I was trying to collect global citizenship stories from teachers. In retrospect perhaps an open Doc with some instructions at the top is too daunting and time consuming. Maybe the appeal of a form is that it is straight to the point, has clear parameters and can be quickly completed.

Based on this reflection I created a new Google Form to collect global citizenship stories which will hopefully be more successful. Most likely teachers are already documenting their global connections somewhere online and asking them to rewrite these details in a Google Doc does not make sense. I hope using a form for teachers to share a link to existing documentation of their project (a blog, wiki, project hashtag, etc.) will be more user friendly. How to crowd-source successfully online is its own research project!

Last week Stephen Downes presented to our EC&I 831 class on “The Role of the Educator in a Networked World.” I was initially overwhelmed by the 23 (!) roles he shared. As I reflected on the list though I realized that in creating a wiki I am exploring several of these roles. The most pronounced role is that of the learner. Not only have I been learning so much and on such a deep level about global citizenship, I have also been stretched to explore new online tools. Also in order to get my wiki to behave within my expectations I am incorporating my emerging instructional design knowledge from ETAD 873 and attempting to understand elements of HTML and CSS.

In addition to my wiki inspiring the role of learner, I am also a curator, collector, alchemist, designer, evaluator, connector, and critic. I have been sifting, interpreting, arranging, organizing and critiquing. I find I am sensemaking and wayfinding not just for myself but in the hope that it will help others navigate the large volume of available content. I do not want to make assumptions for other educators but I hope to do some filtering in order to facilitate sensemaking. After visiting many wikis I really wanted to try to make the content well organized, readable and inviting. It can be intimidating to be presented with so much information that you don’t know how to navigate through it, even when contained in one place.

I am grateful to be exploring the many roles needed to build a wiki and I would not want to pick just one role to refine and let it define my work. In my mind the roles are interconnected and what I learn from one applies and enriches another. As I commented in Allan Lowrie’s blog:

Although it can be overwhelming to explore all of those roles, it is also what makes teaching so exciting and dynamic. I think certainly we have tendencies and strengths that fall more into one category than another but I have grown so much when I push myself to improve my ability to fill other roles. I worry if I define myself in one role I will not only lose that drive but I will no longer be modelling the diversity of roles to my students.

As I continue to work on my wiki, Global Gateway, I invite you to stop by and take a look. I am eager to receive your feedback, suggestions, and additions. The wiki is divided into several sections, some of which include videos, tools, success stories, background knowledge, and existing projects. If you have a global citizenship resource to share please let me know, I’d love to add it.

A Journey Paved with Stories

My posts about writing (#whyiwrite and Sharing the Love of Writing) have lead me to think about storytelling. I realize more and more the role of storytelling in building connections. Fostering global citizenship has become a passion for me and I place it at the heart of much of the project work I do in my Master’s courses. Lately I have been exploring how storytelling fits into global citizenship by creating context, unity and hope. Wade Davis’ TED Talk “Cultures at the Far Edge of the World” inspired me to look more closely at this topic. Davis underscores the need for us to hear the stories of people from all around the world as a means of understanding different ways of knowing and different realities. The hope is that we may then come to treasure a “pluralistic, multicultural world” and truly value its diversity. A multitude of voices sharing their stories enables us to reach a new level of awareness, discovery and connectedness.

The world in which we live does not exist in one absolute sense but is only one model of reality. ~Wade Davis

In Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” she stresses the importance of knowing many stories. The consequences of only knowing one story or different versions of the same story is that it creates only one image in our mind about someone or somewhere. Within the limited framework of one image we then define others, make assumptions and broad generalizations. In doing so we are unable to see the possibilities for connections and similarities.

Many stories matter…they empower, humanize and repair broken dignity. ~Chimamanda Adichie

Storytelling can change the world. ~Wade Davis

I love this quote. It captures so beautifully the connections we can form when we listen and when we share. A year ago the Grade 3′s at our school heard their first stories about Q’enqo, a small indigenous community in Peru. These initial stories led us on an amazing journey of inquiry, connectedness and global citizenship that continues today. My colleague was traveling the world with his family and through video conferencing he connected with our 125 students in Calgary to share his experiences in Peru but more importantly the stories of the people he met. The power of those stories lit our students on fire. The days following were bubbling with questions, wonder and the strong desire to know more. His stories fueled a passion for discovery and understanding, and so began our own story.  Our story that is woven together with the stories of children living over 7000 km away. One that is rich with authentic learning, engagement in the curriculum, compassion for others and above all a desire to contribute to a positive change in the world. It is a journey paved with stories.

I have come to realize that Global Citizenship is a way of thinking and behaving. It is an outlook on life, and most importantly a belief that you can make a difference in this world. ~ Angela Maiers

I am calling for your stories. I have created a Google Doc to collect stories of global citizenship happening in your classrooms with your students. I would love to be able to post your stories on the Global Citizenship Wiki I am creating to showcase the power of connecting our students with the world. I also have a Google Form in which I am looking for online tools that support the development of global citizenship. These will also be added to my wiki. I will roll out my wiki in its early stages next week, again eager for suggestions, ideas and contributions. Thank you for taking part in the storytelling and the journey.