1. Please describe in a sentence or two what the project is all about.
The Horizon Project is a global collaborative project for senior
students. It is based on the Horizon Report 2007 Edition from the New
Media Consortium and Educause Learning Initiative. The report outlines
six trends in emerging technologies that will likely impact on upper
secondary and tertiary education in the next 5 years. This project is a
trip to the future where we envision, discuss and create what this
future will look like based on research into the trends. Students, by
researching, interacting and collaborating have been asked to share
their findings and ideas for a technology-rich future.
2. How does it differ from the Flat Classrooms project?
For a start this project involves five classrooms, not two. There are
extra challenges now with organisation and communication. Since
reviewing and evaluating the Flat Classroom we have put effort into
re-defining the structure of the actual project in terms of what the
students are expected to do and how they will be assessed. Essential
differences for the students include organisation where as well as
creating a personal video, students are expected to contribute to an
area of impact wiki as well as a central wiki for their trend. Each of
the six trends has a student Program manager (PM) who is responsible
for taking a leadership role and coordinating the development of the
project for that area.
After an intense writing and editing process by international
educators, a set of task specific rubrics focussing on wiki page
development, multimedia artifact creation as well as collaboration,
evaluation and reflection have been defined.
We are so lucky to also have joining us an experienced collection of
educators from around the world who have come in to be expert
reviewers, sounding board facilitators for peer review, advisors,
judges, researchers and journalists. On top of this we have a keynote
speaker, 2020 Vision video creator Karl Fisch, who is also interacting
with the students and answering their questions about project
development and futuristic possibilities.
To facilitate communication between participating educators we have set up a Ning community
where blog posts, forum discussions, photos and videos are shared. In
addition we are culminating the project with a 4-day Student Summit and
an Awards Ceremony where all participants are invited to meet online
using software from our sponsors, Elluminate.
3. What are you hoping to achieve?
Essentially we are hoping to continue to flatten our classroom walls
and to provide situations that engage students and support learning. We
hope to show that classrooms working in different parts of the world
can in fact work as one and that curriculum can be adapted and moulded
to suit diverse schools and systems. We want to show that by using Web
2.0 tools for connectivity and communication a deeper understanding of
differences between people around the world will happen and lifelong
friendships will be forged.
4. This project is involving journalists from the outset. So, is this merely an exercise in self-publicity?
NO, this is an exercise in communication and sharing. We are both
single minded about this. We believe in fostering best-practice
educational approaches through inclusion and publication. We are not
afraid to put ourselves out there, to share our mistakes and
5. What do you say to the teacher who might be interested in
this, but is concerned about SATS, No Child Left Behind and other such
Take a holistic approach to education and convince those around you
that this is the way of the future. The walls of the classroom have
been removed. Students and teachers have opportunities now that allow
for enhanced communication and understanding. There is no excuse for
not getting your feet wet. The benefits include an enhanced
relationship with your students and a wider global perspective, not to
mention an appreciation of cultural diversity and an improved learning
environment within your own domain. Be creative in your approach and
inclusive in understand that improved learning through this type of
working will ultimately mean improved outcomes in other areas.
6. What skills will the students learn from participating?
They learn strategies for how to link with others and share resources
through RSS and social bookmarking. They learn how to use a wiki for
self publication and interaction. They learn how to transfer files
around the world and how time zone differences are a fact of life but
not insurmountable. They also learn to how important it is to take a
leadership role and to communicate often in order to solve problems and
work through issues.
7. How can people keep abreast of developments in the project?
All aspects of the project can be found on or linked from the wiki at http://horizonproject.wikispaces.com, and there is a Ning community at http://horizonproject.ning.com/
8. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about running a similar project?
Get started early with the planning and try to get all participants
communicating early and often. Remember that not everyone is familiar
with the demands of online learning and interaction and that in fact it
can be a shock just how intense it can be. It is important to set up
areas on the wiki for effective communication of goals and to give
regular reminders of where everyone should be up to in the project.
Also, spend time and effort bringing the teachers involved on board
with the Web 2.0 tools to be used before the project starts.
9. Why? In other words, why are you doing this?
The real reason sometimes gets overlooked in the blur and intensity of
the day-to-day requirements of getting from the beginning to the end of
this type of project. However, let me try and enunciate it here. The
REAL reason we are doing this is for the students. If the results are
enhanced motivation, better productivity, engagement and excitement
...not to mention skill development and awareness of technology tools
and life skills for collaboration and communication.....then we must be
doing something right.