Today in London, students from Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich shared a presentation at the Learners Y Factor event about PopUpSchool: An experiment in digital learning and collaboration showcased in November 2010 at the Creativity World Forum in Oklahoma City. The following video was recorded at the event and includes their presentation:

Pop Up School at the Learners Y Factor 2011 from Jon Nicholls on Vimeo.

At the 12 minute mark of the video, Joseph from Howe High School in Oklahoma skyped in “live” to the presentation to share some additional perspectives.

During the three months of digital collaboration which preceded the Creativity World Forum, students in London and Oklahoma utilized a wide variety of social media tools to support their creative collaborations. Ning, Tumblr blogs and Facebook, were three of the tools discussed by Tom, Billy, Seb, Raihan and Joseph in their presentation Monday. Flip Video cameras, iPod Touches, and iPads were used by students as well as laptops to create accessible, rich-media websites to showcase their work before, during, and after the forum. The site creativepioneers.weebly.com is one of the online spaces they created sharing their learning and lessons learned.

The students at Thomas Tallis School in London and Howe Public Schools in Oklahoma are extremely fortunate. To be empowered and supported, AT SCHOOL, in the constructive as well as responsible use of social media tools like this is EXCEPTIONALLY rare today. It should not be, but sadly it is. Many of our schools and school leaders remain focused on a traditionally organized and “delivered” model of education which has no room for flexible, organic, unpredictable digital collaborations like PopUpSchool. That is, in my understanding, one of the biggest points of PopUpSchool. Schools are no longer restricted to places and times as they have been traditionally. Digital tools and connectivity can permit us AND SHOULD EMPOWER US to make curricular, social, and creative connections to others in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.

The idea of a PopUpSchool may strike some people as frivolous and non-academic. “What curricular standards did the students achieve?” some may ask. “Will the students do better on their mandated state or national tests as a result of their participation in this activity?” others may wonder aloud. It is unfortunate the relevance and importance of facilitated collaborations like these are not clearly apparent to all educational stakeholders. It is VITAL we help students, as well as each other as education professionals, learn how to leverage social media technologies for collaboration and learning. Social media is not a fly-by-night phenomenon, it is a persistent aspect of our information and communications landscape today. Collaboration with other people, in other locations, living in different time zones, is an essential element of the 21st century workplace outside of schools. These kinds of collaborations need to become commonplace in our schools and classrooms.

What kind of international collaboration are the students and teachers at YOUR school participating in this year? If the answer is, “We’re not” or “They’re not,” it’s time to make a change. Students and teachers participating in PopUpSchool at the Creativity World Forum in November provided an exciting example of what’s possible, and they shared even more about their lessons learned today in London. More of us need to follow their lead.

Classroom partner clocks (Maria Knee's classroom)

Read more about PopUpSchool on my November 2010 post, “Connecting Students and Countries: London to Oklahoma with PopUpSchool,” and on Saturday’s post, “Learners Y Factor” on the Creative Tallis blog. Also take some time to explore the PopUpSchool site on Weebly!

Hat tip to Tammy Parks for sharing the link to this video.

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  • Jill H

    Thanks for doing this post. I’m exploring credible, reliable and persuasive examples of instructional uses of social networking in preparation to respond to the Virgina Department of Education’s plan to essentially ban social networking throughout the state. My school system (not in VA) is developing its guidelines based on the language used in VA. YIKES!

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Jill: Wow. What is your state? I’d be very interested to learn more about your work. In a couple of weeks Karen Montgomery and I will be sharing an updated version of our NECC 2009 session on “Social Media Guidlines for Schools.” We’ve started a Facebook Group focused on these issues.

    Are you sharing your ongoing research via social bookmarks or other means?

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