| LEARNING CONNECTIONS
T his journey started when Bob
Lyons read an L&L article written by Greg Taranto on “
Internet Safety: A Whole School Approach”
(March 2007). e article described
the Internet safety survey given to all
seventh graders at Greg’s school. At
the time, Bob was preparing to start
a new job at the American School of
Warsaw (ASW), an independent K– 12
international school in Poland.
He thought the survey would be a
great way to tailor an Internet safety
curriculum. Bob needed a few survey tools to assess the needs of his
high school computer science classes.
Greg’s Internet use and safety survey
was simple, informative, and a great
segue to the Internet lesson planned
for the rst week of school.
A er giving the survey, the results
were tallied. e gures were surprising
and brought up some interesting questions about student practices on the Internet. Bob and his students wondered
if their results were speci c to ASW,
or to international schools in general
because of their expatriate communities, or if online safety is a global issue.
Bob’s introductory computer students
asked if they could survey other schools
around the area to demonstrate that
their behavior was the norm.
Bob asked to use Greg’s questions,
and the two embarked on a partnership that led their students on a successful international project.
We exchanged ideas on how to
reach students. Greg wanted to explore the idea of videoconferencing
in his school. We formed a collaborative plan that would allow both
schools to experience the power of
videoconferencing. We decided to
use the results of the global Internet
survey as the discussion points of the
By Greg Taranto and Bob Lyons
conference while giving the students
an opportunity to learn about one
another’s culture. Greg decided his
seventh graders would be the best
t for this pioneer voyage, as Canonsburg Middle School’s seventh
grade social studies curriculum has
a strong focus on world cultures. e
next step was collecting the data and
nding an a ordable way to share it
e ASW beginning computer class
embarked on an Internet safety research project that resulted in minor
adjustments to the survey questions to
match areas of interest. For example,
students added a question regarding
wireless Internet access in bedrooms.
Canonsburg Middle School and
international schools from the Central
and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) participated initially, but it soon expanded to schools
around the globe. We used Zoomer-ang, a Web-based survey site, to host
the survey and record responses.
Students were questioned in grades 3,
5, 7, 9, and 11. Bob’s students graphed
the aggregated results in Excel and
sent them to Greg for review. ey
chose to use Skype, a free, easy-to-use
so ware program that allows videoconferencing between computers to
almost anywhere in the world. Google
Docs allowed them to create, collaborate, and share the presentation,
agenda, and numerous graphs.
e videoconference was scheduled during the annual ASW family
tech night in February, but a series of
events delayed the link up. On March
27, 2008, students took a virtual eld
trip. Fi een “ambassadors” represented Canonsburg Middle School,
each on behalf of a seventh grade
social studies class. e students
asked questions about life in Warsaw.
On the Poland side, Kristy Weiss,
an ASW seventh grade social studies
teacher, enthusiastically agreed to have
her class participate. e connection
was relatively smooth, with only some
choppy points here and there, but nothing to complain about for the minimal
cost of the Web cams. ASW remotely
controlled the Google presentation, allowing Canonsburg students to follow
along with the slide show. e graphs
were used as conversation pieces for the
students to share ideas on what contributed to the di erences in each school.
e students thoroughly enjoyed the
experience, as evidenced by the level of
conversation, interactive dialogue, and
looks on their faces throughout the experience. In addition to discussing Internet
safety and etiquette, students inquired
about a variety of topics, including favorite
sports teams, hobbies, places to hang out,
and forms of entertainment. ere was
a real sense of inquiry and willingness to
learn from one another.
We plan to move forward with this
newly formed partnership to provide
future videoconferencing opportunities
for both schools. is year, we intend
to branch out to more countries around
the world. As educators, it is our responsibility to use technology to provide
the very best learning experiences for
our students. is collaborative project
between students six time zones apart
illustrates the power of technology in
today’s 21st-century classroom!
—Greg Taranto is the assistant to the superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and technology for the Canon-McMillan School District in
Pennsylvania. He is attending Robert Morris
University’s IML Doctorate Program.
—Bob Lyons is the high school computer science
instructor and tech integration specialist at the
American School of Warsaw in Poland.