Utilizing blended-learning to teach in
Hyderabad, India from my home in Fredericksburg, VA.
As I sit sipping my white mocha espresso at Hyperion coffee shop in Fredericksburg, Virginia I am very impressed with the ease of using technology to flatten my classroom and in turn the world. My Global Studies and Social and Cultural Anthropology students are currently sitting at their desks at our host-school, the INDUS International School, located outside of Hyderabad, India. You might be wondering how or why I would be teaching students in India from Fredericksburg, VA and the answer to both questions is technological innovation in teaching. First through the innovative ideas of Joann McPike, founder of THINK Global School and second through a host of Web 2.0 tools designed to help teachers use the internet in their classrooms.
For the first time in my teaching career I have been absent on the first day of school. The process to receive my Business Visa to work in India has been quite the conundrum. Visa’s are usually one of our toughest complications when choosing countries at THINK Global School, the world’s first mobile-boarding school, but usually the visa complications are with our students not our teachers.
This annoying Visa issue has left me in Virginia while my classes meet in Hyderabad, but has actually allowed me to grow as an educator. In order to make this work, I had to utilize the internet to flatten my classroom and start classes without a hitch despite my physical distance from my class. THINK Global School uses an incredible platform, THINK Spot, to facilitate our online learning and without it none of this would be possible. (A huge thank you to Lindsay, Mike, Jeff, Lee and our entire tech team for doing an incredible job!)
Some of the Web 2.0 Tools I have used in order to blend the learning and flatten my classroom are:
Podcasts: I created a rap/podcast on GarageBand to introduce myself to the students in a creative way and to set their first assignment of the year. The assignment will be used as a gauge for me to learn about the research and writing skills that my students possess. To hear my rap/podcast for Global Studies click here.
Forums: I have uploaded selected readings for my IB Anthropology students and created online forums to have discussions with them despite our 9.5 hour time difference. The first one is Horace Miner’s classic study of the Nacirema, with a twist. This is a great article to start discussing emic and etic perspectives in an intro to anthropology class. To see the group forum for Horace Miner’s article click here.
Blogs and Prezi: I have created a blog that outlines classwork activities and group work that the students can carry out during our class sessions. Inside the blog I have embedded a Prezi that has documents that explain to them 21st Century skills, and an Intro to Culture worksheets. Another class activity that is included in the Prezi is for the students to create a “hello” audio file in as many languages as they can, which we will share via Twitter.
Keynote: I posted the file of a Keynote presentation to give an overview the first unit for Social and Cultural Anthropology the Intro to Culture.
Despite the physical distance I am sure that my students are off to a great start to understanding both the country and the world around them.
Stay tuned for more from my class, hopefully I will be onsite in India before the weeks end. After learning how engaging these tech tools are for both me and my students I will absolutely keep pushing the digital envelope with my teaching.
Thanks for reading!