This has indirectly had an impact on the entire school as many teachers have adjusted, adapted, gone without, rescheduled, and otherwise dealt with the increased demand for the laptop cart in support of this project. A shout-out to everyone!
This is the first year Nepal has been represented in this project and our students were some of nearly 800 from the U.S., Canada, China, India, Lesotho, and elsewhere. It was truly a learning experience us and was far from perfect. Yet, shortcomings and frustrations aside, the students learned and gained more than they may initially realize. More than what our students gained is what they contributed to the project. They provided an insider's glimpse into Nepal, a country most of the participating students had never really known about or even heard of. One of my favorite pictures shows an entire class in middle America gathered around a map pointing to Nepal. That's what we've done. Like others have noted, the best question we can ask is what are students contributing to the world as a result of their learning?
Monday and Tuesday of this week our students participated in a reflection celebration which included a live webinar/summit with students, teachers, and project administrators from around the world. Some teachers got up in the middle of the night to join us. It was a great chance for our students to speak, reflect, and ask questions in real-time and know their voices and video were being carried to others in far away places. We saw and spoke with a class at YCIS in Beijing. A very well-respected Google superstar friend of mine joined us from Sydney unexpectedly and the 5th graders couldn't ask him questions fast enough. My favorite was when a student asked him how they handle loadshedding in Sydney :) (We started by defining it for him...) Such a setting on this scale was a first for our elementary students. These students truly did connect, collaborate, and co-create.
We ended with a rousing exploration of my recent favorite Google World Wonders Project. The excitement in the air was tangible as students explored underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, ventured inside Scott's 1912 preserved hut in Antarctica, and even went to the moon and Mars. They couldn't contain themselves and were a hubbub of activity showing cool things to their neighbors. They didn't even want to stop for treats. These students also made a realization that Nepal and India (and most of Asia) aren't on there yet, and that exploration is not over: they can contribute to the greater knowledge of the world.
This project has been a great example of expanding classroom walls and truly making the world a little more flat.