Water Issues in Africa Event
On April 27th, 2010 the Global Classroom Program at the World Affairs Council of Seattle held its second educational event in Skoolaborate’s virtual environment. Participants included high school students and teachers from Australia and the United States. During the event, two journalists from the Common Language Project, a Seattle-based non-profit that reports on issues and peoples that are underrepresented in the traditional media, presented their work on water issues in Africa.
Learning to use the virtual world for educational events is a journey, and this event represented an important step along the path for us. After our first event in February, we knew that we could manage the technology piece. With support from the folks at Skoolaborate, it was easy to load slides and prepare an attractive area for the presentation. But, we also knew that we wanted to draw out more participation from the students and more interaction among students, teachers, and our expert presenters.
With helpful suggestions from Westley, we planned for the presentation on water in Africa to include more questions to prompt students to think and make comments along the way. We also changed the format to make it easier for the speakers to see student questions as they came up in the public chat. Our expert speakers were very flexible and responsive, answering questions as they arose, which made the whole event feel less like a lecture and more like a productive conversation.
In terms of next steps, we plan to do another event during the last week of June, when we will have our summer institute students together. Seeing the power of live engagement across great distances is inspirational, and we hope our next event will help motivate our summer institute students in their work raising awareness at their schools about global issues. Within the Skoolaborate community, they can see that many other students around the world share their concern for global issues. For the World Affairs Council, this is proving to be an excellent fit – a virtual forum that allows us to extend our mission of facilitating discussions about vital world issues and make those discussions multinational events!