In an effort to encourage global cross-cultural
communications, California-based Schools Online in the
United States launched a collaborative project between
students in the United States and Egypt.
Equipped with computers and training from
School Online, students in Watsonville, California
were able to use the Internet and other ICTs to
communicate with their counterparts in Giza, Egypt.
The experimental project, which began in
January 2002, is an effective method to broaden the
horizons of a new generation of global citizens.
Srila LaRochellle, Director of Business
Development for Schools Online, said, “Through
online collaborative projects, children become more
aware of diversity and are more understanding of other
Realizing that high technologies have changed the
educational environment, Schools Online worked with
teachers, community members and relevant government
agencies to give students in the Abu Bakr El Sedeek
and Watsonville high schools the technology tools to
share the unique characteristics of their respective
with an introductory video about their school and
neighbouring community, teachers and students in both
schools worked together to create a multidisciplinary
This initial activity allowed the project
participants to get a glimpse of a different culture,
while providing a forum for them to explore the common
challenges accompanying the ever-evolving global
Despite the thousands of miles that separated them,
both schools were located in geographically isolated,
rural areas dominated by agriculture and poverty.
Through the Internet, these formerly
disconnected students are able to discuss issues
ranging from teen health, food and culture.
Beyond enabling the teachers and students to
more closely collaborate and learn from each other,
the use of the Internet in the classroom also helps to
sensitize a new generation of knowledge
producers/consumers to new technologies.
Illustrative of the benefits brought by virtual
collaboration, one Egyptian teacher said, “I
strongly believe that these types of programmes enrich
the learning process and help the students to be
So far, Schools Online has focused on providing each school with
the technology and initial teacher professional
development resources to allow them to design and
implement an international online collaborative
project for students to "handshake" with
their counterparts in other regions of the world.
Thus far, the students have participated in one
text chat and in the production of a video to share
their culture with their new friends. Later in August
2002, the Watsonville/Abu Bakr El Sedeek project will
begin an activity that will allow the students to
watch each other's video and chat over the Internet to
converse about the visuals.
A video chat will also be scheduled as the
project continues to evolve.
A more structured project, centered around teen
health issues, will be implemented by the social
studies and health teachers from both schools in the
This unique collaborative effort, which is funded
by a grant from the Donald and Rachel Valentine
Foundation, is on hiatus until school resumes in
September 2002. While
it is still too early to concretely determine the
long-term benefits that the programme will have on
American and Egyptian students, it is clear that the
students are eager to use new technologies in the
Egyptian student said, “we are very proud to have
the Internet Learning Center at our school.” As the Watsonville principal noted, the ability of his
students to talk to their peers in other parts of the
world through a keyboard allows new generations to
engage in productive cross-cultural dialogue.
The project is ongoing and is funded through
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