Collaboration lies at the core of the project. The three classrooms in the project are highly intertwined, despite each school being roughly an hour’s drive apart from the others; videoconferencing and online communication mediums are working to dissolve geographical boundaries. Connected Classrooms is one of many initiatives within our district designed to meet the needs of declining enrolment, limited student peer groups and rural isolation through collaborative technology and instruction. The project also respects that the interactive nature of our knowledge-based world requires the ability to collaborate and that innovation requires people to interact in a variety of ways, including through interactive technologies and project-based experiences.
The project has created a community of learners amongst the students and teachers. The learning is organized by core teachers who collaborate and plan with each on a daily, weekly and month basis; teachers model the collaborative process they promote within students. The nature of the videoconferences is highly collaborative; students engage in many project-based activities that are constructivist and require cooperation with classmates, creativity and critical thinking. Learners and teacher- facilitators interact through videoconference interactions, sharing smart board work via Brigit, and engaging in online forums and chat rooms together. Moodle has become a powerful communication and sharing tool; students frequently message each other and their teachers, and engage deeply in discussion forums. Participants also communicate by sharing a variety of multimedia content created by students and facilitators at each site.