Intro to Networked Collaboration

Networked Event Review: Guest Speaker Rafi

So I raced home to get to this event reasonably on time.  I felt it was an a very interesting experience to be in the same virtual room with all my class members at once.  Although, it was certainly confusing as far as figuring out which avatar was which classmate.

Rafi described his work in an organization he founded, entitled Global Kids Media, what his goals are with this organization, and how the kids responded to the processes.  He directed us to a YouTube video that the kids had put together documenting what they had learned during the process of an archeological dig they had followed virtually in Tanzania.

The trajectory that Rafi is on, as far as educating children about online possibilities is one which I think will gain more acceptance in the future as more classes like this one happen and the online world gains more trust and acceptance.  Rafi mentioned something about starting these programs in schools that, firstly, had the appropriate computer hardware/infrastructure to support it, and secondly, that deemed this kind of education important.

I think Rafi’s class affect the kids in several good ways.  Firstly, they get the joy and self-confidence out of making a video that looks quite professional, and it becomes a skill for work and artwork in the future.  Secondly,  they got to learn about archeology and have live cross-cultural encounters; the next best thing to being able to go to another country, which is something not all kids’ families can afford or would get to do.  Thirdly, the kids can open up to friendships with the kids in other countries.  It’s a great way to have friendships which are more nonjudgemental of one’s past, class, looks, clothes, etc.  When I was in sixth-grade, my instructor found a class of sixth-graders in another state to be pen-pals with.  So we worked on our writing a made friends with other kids.  

It was a supportive, non-judgemental relationship that lasted for several years, independent of and happily separate from what happened in my real life.  

Fourthly, it allows kids who may be more shy in real life to express themselves in other ways online.

One of the students asked whether Rafi had tried this kind of project with adults and he said “no” and left it at that.  I think this process would have tremendous potential for highschool students, specifically for the artistic possibilities, and also just to get teenagers out of their self-obsessed worlds.

I really can’t think of any drawbacks to this kind of work.

I also felt strongly after this virtual process of meeting in Second Life that it should be used in all the online classes at the New School.  It really draws the class closer together, enhances online/text interaction in the future, and encourages involvement.  If the school is going to be online, they may as well take full advantage of online technology.  

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December 16, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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