Microsoft Corporation has recognized a Red River College instructor for using technology to forge social and cultural connections between high school students in Winnipeg and their counterparts in northern Manitoba.
Teacher Education instructor Eva Brown (shown) served as head of the Technology department for the River East Transcona School Division, for whom she developed a collaborative, cross-cultural exchange between Grade 12 students from River East Collegiate and Grade 11 students from Charles Sinclair School on the Fisher River Cree Nation.
The project, entitled Building Global Opportunities Together — Anywhere, Anytime, was developed under Microsoft’s Innovative Teacher initiative, and was showcased at a global conference in Washington, D.C., last November.
“Our topic was treaties and treaty relationships,” says Brown. “My class was a technology class, so my students used a variety of Web 2.0 tools and other technologies to illustrate the history of treaties and treaty relationships in Canada. We combined technology with social studies to facilitate global education.”
Following a presentation from James Wilson, Commissioner of the Treaty Relations Commission of Canada, Brown’s Grade 12 students connected with Fisher River students and began exchanging cultural and biographical information. When the Fisher River students sent pictures of goose hunts, fishing expeditions and cabin-raising initiatives in their community, for example, the River East students would use Microsoft technology to transform that info into Wiki pages, Prezis and Photosynth presentations.
The same software was used by the River East students to create presentations on their own activities at home and at school, and to document the history of treaty relations in Canada. (Click here to see the project in full.)
“I believe it is hugely important that students learn to become digital citizens and to collaborate on a global scale,” says Brown. “Their future is in a flat world in a digital economy. Students must have opportunities that develop such skills — education for their future, and not for the industrial age, which is past.”
Late last year, Brown’s project was one of only six from Canada — and 130 from around the world — chosen to be showcased at Microsoft Partners in Learning’s Global Forum in Washington. As a result of her presentation, Brown was interviewed by representatives from the Smithsonian Institution, who expressed interest in creating a Manitoba exhibit for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Though Brown is now on secondment with RRC, teachers at River East will continue using the framework of her project to incorporate Microsoft technologies into the study of global issues for future classes.
“I believe that every educator is an important part of the entire education process,” says Brown. “As such, I see this Microsoft Innovative Project as an opportunity to provide students in Manitoba with skills and education that will produce lifelong benefits.”
Click here for more information on the Microsoft Canada Innovative Educators program, and here for more info on RRC’s Teacher Education programs.