the Digital Rapids
Customize. In the book Grown Up
Digital: How the Net Generation Is
Changing Your World, author Don
Tapscott cites customization as one of
the characteristics of this generation.
Our students thrive on customized
tools, such as mobile technology, and
customized learning environments.
They reject one-size-fits-all curricula
that go unchanged year after year.
Teachers who avoid customization
often claim they cannot customize
and meet standards at the same time.
But meeting standardized learning
outcomes does not mean you have to
standardize the process. In fact, if you
involve students in student-centered,
globally connected projects, each stu-
dent’s learning experience becomes
markedly different, and each classroom
becomes as unique as the students and
teachers who learn there. A custom-
ized classroom and national standards
can coexist and lead to rich learning.
Of course, the first step to “
flattening” your classroom is to be connected yourself. Connecting students
to other classrooms requires teachers
to have a good understanding of how
the technology works, especially
the collaborative Web 2.0 tools, such
as wikis, Nings, and blogging platforms. They need to develop their own
personal learning networks and have
some understanding of what connected learning looks like and how to
harness its power.
Monitor and be engaged. Using
an educational network to support
learning in a classroom is not the
Flat Classroom Projects
Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis started the Flat
Classroom Project ( www.flatclassroomproject.org)
in 2006 to bring together middle and senior high
school students in a global collaborative effort. This
network is for educators who want to transform
learning through global collaboration. It is a place
to connect with other educators and proliferate
ideas for worldwide connections. The project
embraces a holistic and constructivist educational
approach to help students become competitive and
globally minded. The idea is to use Web 2.0 tools,
such as wikis and Nings, to “flatten,” or lower,
the classroom walls so that instead of each class
working alone, two or more classes join virtually to
become one large classroom.
The topics studied and discussed are real-world
scenarios based on the book by Thomas Friedman,
The World is Flat, which was the inspiration for the
project. Students analyze the trends of information
technology and research the effects on the future
of education. Classrooms are flattened as teachers
blog, share personal learning networks via Nings,
collaborate on wikis, and reach out to those who
share a curricular perspective.
Several other projects have evolved out of the Flat Classroom Project:
Net Generation Education. Formerly called the Horizon Project, Net Generation was created in conjunction
with Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World. Students
study the annual Horizon Report on emerging technologies and envision the future of education via
Web collaboration and video. Tapscott posts weekly questions to the discussion forum, leaves video
messages to the students, and hosts a webinar. Find more info at http://netgened.wikispaces.com.
Digiteen. This project was inspired by the ISTE book Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble and
Gerald Bailey. The project links classrooms of middle school students from countries such as Australia,
Canada, the United States, Spain, and Qatar to promote better online citizenship through research and
discussion. It culminates with each school taking action within its own community to promote digital
citizenship. Ribble is an adviser to the project and interacts with classrooms globally. Find links to past
and current Digiteen projects from the Flat Classroom Project wiki at http://flatclassroomproject.org. All
participants also belong to the Ning at http://digiteen.ning.com. A teacher’s guide is available at http://
Digiparent. This network for parents and teachers is a place to share resources globally and interact
while exploring the best ways to communicate digital citizenship ideals across a whole school
community. Find more info at http://digiparent.ning.com.
Eracism. Launched as a pilot project in October 2009, Eracism is a global student debate that includes
a virtual world component. Middle school students used Voice Thread to debate the topic “Differences
Make Us Stronger.” Find more information at www.eracismproject.org.