Developing Expert Voices

1/31/2007 08:28:00 am

Last summer at Alan November's Building Learning Communities conference I gave my Whiplash! workshop. One of the ideas I threw out (the link is to the podcast, download and listen from 12 min 50 sec through 15 min 32 sec) that made some people's heads snap was one Clarence and I were talking about in Starbucks last Friday.

So Clarence followed up with Courses Need To Die and Bud comments: "...get to work on it ... Maybe there's a grant somewhere aching to be written."

That's the sort of stuff I'm no good at but this idea fires my imagination.

Let's say a LARGE group of teachers from all over the world gets some grant money to build a global collaborative educational project. Let's say someone like David Warlick helps us build an aggregation engine like hitchhikr for courses (he gets paid using some of the grant money). It would include a tagging functionality for the subject, specific content, age level of the students, date and GMT time. (What other tags would be important?) Let's say every classroom in the project gets at a minimum high speed internet, speakers, mic and skype. (How about video?) And let's say the students in the project do Flat Classroom-like projects where they produce learning objects, aggregated on a blog, that develop their "expert voices".

Expert Voices: (The idea behind "developing expert voices" comes out of the talk I had planned to give at the PLE Symposium last Friday.) This is something I'm going to be doing with my classes next semester instead of the Go For Gold assignment.

I will make a list of topics and post it on a side white board in the class. The topics will cover the breadth of the course content students are responsible for. Working together in groups of 2 to 4 (no solos), students will be required to develop a project and publish it online in any format they like. I'll need to develop some sort of rubric for this but essentially, they will have to demonstrate their expertise in the topic and demonstrate it in a format that educates an interested learner. (Lots of details to work out here but that's the broad strokes idea.)

Let's say we can do this thing. How do we begin?

To start I think we need to get the idea out there and see if we can build a critical mass. I'm tagging this post with the names of several blogging teachers. If you got tagged, but especially if you didn't, and want to help move this idea forward or participate in any way, blog it. Add a bunch of other folks in your list of tags and include the tag: .

I bounced this idea off my principal, just to see how he'd react. He said getting the grant money should be no problem. It will depend upon getting that critical mass of global educators on board; k-20 (kids aged 5 to 25+).

So, what d'ya say? Do you want to have your students participate in the global knowledge commons?

I was going to shout out to a bunch of teachers who blog with their students and at the last minute decided to "leave it up to the network." ;-) If the idea has merit then please post about it on your blog and let's try to build a critical mass of involved educators. If it doesn't then this post will be quietly ignored. If you teach math please leave me a comment if you'd like to get together to have our kids collaborate in this way -- similar to what Julie and Vicki did with their Flat Classrooms Project.

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  1. Darren this is a great idea. It ties into some projects i was planning to do with my students in the near future. Thanks for voicing your idea. I would love to help out and spread the word.


  2. Anonymous1/2/07 18:53

    Excellent! Glad to hear it. I'm sort of toying with the idea of matching up kids of different ages.

    Let's say the topic was oh, I don't know, say rationals. ;-) A grade 8 student would be responsible for generating the content related to the four operations on rationals. A grade 10 student working with her would do the same thing using algebraic expressions. Both topics are drawn right out of each grade's curriculum. The older student mentors the younger student with the content. Together they would develop the format of the project.

    What do you think?

  3. I like the opportunity for mentorship and leadership being provided by both the older and the younger student. I think that breaking up the curriculum would be a wise way to do things or at least how I could participate.

    It would be interesting to see if the older student passed on the

    "you really need to know this stuff when you get to my grade" message.

    I love when a plan comes together!

    Hannibal "The A Team"


  4. Darren, as usual, another great idea! I think it would be interesting to assign the same topic to multiple groups, let them work their way through their project, share with other groups, ultimately create one presentation that has multiple representations of the same concept for different learners to access. Would allow the mentors to see the topic as others see it which might give them more insight into the topic.

    As a side bar, I'm working on a virtual algebra program grant to be gin this summer for next year and think this kind of application might be very applicable. I would love to stay in the loop on this.


  5. Anonymous2/2/07 09:57

    Hi Roland,

    I'll continue to blog about it here if it takes off. There hava been a couple of nibbles so far but we don't yet have a "critical mass."

    Pass the idea along to any classroom teachers you know. I think this idea is scalable across subject areas.


  6. Anonymous4/2/07 15:04

    Hi Darren - I just stumbled across your post (like you do!!!). I am very much inclined towards looking for these collaborative projects not only to further the global understanding of our pupils, but also to give real purpose to the use of Web 2.0 tools in education - my pupils are quite young at 7 to 8 years old - I quite like the idea of older pupils mentoring younger ones. I will spread the word to those I know.
    Paul Harrington ( Wales)

    ps sorry that the Y6 teachers I gave contact details for a link with Canada haven't done anything with it - different priorities I guess.

  7. Wonderful idea Darren. Count me in (BTW, I am part of The Fischbowl). Currently I teach 9th grade Algebra and Calculus....