Building webpages in class

Building webpages in class

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Students connect around the world through a special online learning project. Mabel Sieh reports.

Selena Harb is sitting in class using her Apple Macbook to update her personal webpage. The 12-year-old has chosen Captain Jack Sparrow - the character portrayed by Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies - to portray who she feels she is in 'My Movie', part of a computer project where a student cast different characters in a movie about their life.

'I chose him because we have a lot in common; we are both adventurous,' Selena says. She has inserted two hyperlinks to exciting sites - one on a rainforest and the other on scuba diving. 'I have tried these adventures and loved them.'

Another student, Max Wong, has put up the lyrics to Michael Jackson's Earth Song on his webpage under 'Song of My Life'. The 11-year-old feels strongly about the destruction of the earth. 'People should stop chopping down trees and wasting paper or food,' he says.

Alicia Ha, meanwhile, is working on a 'Poetry Anthology' project.

'I like poetry because it has lots of images,' she says. 'It's great that I can write my poem on the computer for others to read and I can see their work, too.'

They are all seventh graders at Kiangsu-Chekiang College International Section (KCCIS) in North Point who are using a computer system called Connected Learning Community (cLc). The system allows them to create websites with links to other webpages; conduct surveys; upload images, video clips and voice recordings - the list goes on.

They can also share pages with other students around the world who are using the same platform.

Max, for example, cannot wait to interact with students from the Math Science Academy in Harrisburg in the US state of Pennsylvania once he finishes his project after Easter.

'It's cool. I've never met anyone from America. I want to know what their favourite foods are, and about their idols and family backgrounds,' Max says.

The person who brought the system to the school is Drew Wilson, senior teacher and head of English.

'The system allows students to become producers of their knowledge. The school has the capacity to connect with schools [that use] the system in other countries, such as the UK, the US, Australia and Germany, to name just a few,' Wilson says.

Wilson has developed a three-year plan that includes in-house training to develop projects within the curriculum and reach out to people outside of Hong Kong. Teachers as well as students are learning the tools - which means a massive database for professional development will soon be at their fingertips.

Elizabeth O'Sullivan, who oversees the English department for Grades 7 to 9, was apprehensive about the system at first. 'I am not that technical at all. So when I was first shown the cLc, I had to disguise my fear. But I was wrong because it is incredibly easy to use,' she says.

'The students feel there is a real audience for their work, so they had better put up their best work! They also love writing and editing on their laptops - it is a real motivator for them.'

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