A mobile classroom rolls through Latin America
The Internet makes it possible to have a global classroom. Teachers and young people from around the world can learn from each other, share their ideas, publish their work and explore new ways of using technology for education. But sometimes it takes old-fashioned footwork to build that international network. That’s the idea behind the Biodiesel Diaries Project.
The project, the result of a partnership between the non-profit Education Without Borders International and the New Learning Institute, involves a six-month journey through Central and South America that seeks to link young people in two continents. Using the ReMix World social networking platform, educators hope to build an online community among students in several countries, based on a common interest in protecting the environment.
Fueled by Frying
In November, 2009, Education Without Borders International co-executive director Carlos Herrera and a team of teachers and film makers set out from Oakland, California on a six-month journey. Their destination: Chile. Their vehicle: an SUV running on biodiesel and used vegetable oil.
As they travel through the countries on their route, their mission is two-fold. First, they aim to meet young people and find out how issues of ecology and sustainability are affecting their communities. Second, they help those young people document their concerns using digital media and show them how to publish their work online, becoming part of a global dialogue.
The Biodiesel team travels with a set of mobile devices supplied by NLI, and in cities and small towns, they show students how to use the devices to create digital documents with video, photos, text and sound. The young people are encouraged to view themselves as citizen journalists, reporting on local environmental problems and successes. Often they interview local residents on camera or create video reports about their communities.
The completed documents are posted on the ReMix World network where they can be shared with students from around the world. In places where students have Internet access, they can open their own blog accounts on ReMix World and participate in an ongoing dialogue with other participants.
From California to Chile
Juniors and seniors at Life Academy High School in Oakland, California are also taking part in the project, viewing the student produced films, responding on ReMix World and creating their own digital documents. They practice their language skills by blogging in Spanish and engage in cross-cultural discussion with students from Latin America.
This program will conclude in April 2010 when the Biodiesel team reaches Chile and ends it journey. But it will serve as a pilot for other projects that allow students to use mobile devices to create and publish their own work, and to share their ideas across borders.