Like millions of girls her age, eleven-year-old Esra Korkucu of Avanos, Turkey loves to skip rope and ride a bicycle. This personal information became available to the wider public once Esra volunteered her story to GlobaLearn, an inspired company of young adults who travel the world and chronicle their journey through the eyes of children. Now thousands of American children follow Esra's life via the World Wide Web.
GlobaLearn is just one example of how the Internet can bring the world into the classrooms of the nation. The company was founded by Murat Armbruster with a mission to "prepare children for global citizenship and develop in them the skills, awareness, and determination to become responsible stewards of the Earth."
GlobaLearn, and other sites like Mayaquest and Africa OnLine collect stories, and via satellite connections, send them to their headquarters where they are processed and uploaded to the World Wide Web. This combination of a new generation and new digital tools is forcing a rethinking of the nature of education - in both content and delivery.
Growing up is about learning. However, the global economy and world society in which these kids are growing up is very different than that of the boomers. Their destination is different and so is the route they must take.
The New Teacher
As the digital media penetrates the classroom environment and is embraced by N-Gen students, what is the new role for the teacher? Since the new media is drastically changing the learning milieu, so must the teachers change their roles and become more adapted to the new system of learning.
Small miracles have been occurring over the last three years at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate in North York, Ontario. The Emerging Technologies Program mixes grades 10 to 12 to do projects involving teams and new media. Their teacher, Richard Ford, told the students on the first day that their first project was for each to design their own Web page.
The learning model is that everyone relies on their own resources, and on everyone else, sharing their expertise. Richard told them that if their Web pages weren't displayed by Friday, everyone got zero. On the second day of class some kids were going around asking others if they needed help. When they had exhausted all routes and could not find an answer themselves, they were allowed to approach the teacher (aka the facilitator), who then worked with them as a team member to find a solution or a resource.
"The kids not only learned about the new media and developed language and presentation skills, they learned about how to interact with clients and meet deadlines and most important they learned about how to share expertise and how to source it as well," says coordinator Vicki Saunders. "The kids work ten times longer because they are so excited about their projects."
Richard has a radical view of the role of the teacher - "I don't teach. If I teach, who knows what they will learn. Teaching's out. I tell kids that there are no limits. You can create whatever you want to create. If it's impossible, it will just take a bit longer. My main function is to get kids excited, and to consider things that they haven't done before. I'm working to create citizens in a global society."