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Time Capsule Project - Learning Across Borders

An international platform for schools around the world to participate in hand-in-hand collaborative projects and develop digital literacy.

Photo of Carolyn Trotman-Grabek
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Written by

I am a.....

  • Teacher

Tell us about your idea

The problem

Covid-19 has forced us to suspend and rethink a pivotal part of our pedagogic English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program when we went into lockdown. We had to redesign the ways our students could practice and develop their language skills while working on real-life challenges within an international context. Our EFL programme is heavy on what we call Production Tasks, i.e. creative opportunities for learners to research and build their own repertoire of the English language through activities that require them to produce real-life linguistic content.

The new reality of social distancing has presented us and our students (10-17) with an opportunity to collectively reflect on past, presence & the future.

The solution
Inspired by the idea of time capsules — a message written to future generations, we have built a storyline & template for systematic online collaborations implemented for 200+ pupils in Poland and Russia during the COVID-19 lockdowns in both countries. It includes features we have already integrated into our school curriculum, such as:

— the practices of Participatory Democracy, Design Thinking and Character Education that are built into the foundations of projects,

— tools & techniques that facilitate group collaboration, and

— sharpening networking skills.

We would like to reproduce the project on a larger scale, and also to initiate other like-minded projects.

We are looking at ways to build:

— a custom designed digital platform to facilitate international hans-in-hand collaboration & conferencing specifically for the learning goals defined,

— a database for finding and inviting schools in other countries to collaborate with each other, a

— easy access for schools to join projects

— a guide for the new online communities to reflect on the future, as well as practice collaboration while being conscious of the technological pros/cons; in addition to being armed with the best facilitation practices.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Life in the times of COVID-19 is spearheading a massive shift in young people’s understanding of the long-standing creed of 'travel broadens the mind'. What we are happy to move on… and away from, is the narrow practice of allowing the walls of our classrooms to shutter out the diverse opportunities beyond the confines of our brick and mortar schools. The 15 teachers who are taking part in the prototype project, have now experienced their first meaningful, non-physical exchange trip to another school, in another country, on another continent. Yes! It’s true that the pandemic forced our hands, pushed us into designing novel learning tasks in an effort to bring diversity, enthusiasm and innovation to the online lessons of our confined learners. But now, both pupils/students and teachers are hooked. There’s no going back. It’s clear that there is a rich path ahead of us for utilising well thought-out, systematic online collaborations in school settings.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I’m Carolyn, and my professional expertise is in curriculum design and classroom methodology. I joined Spark Academy Primary and High Schools in Poznan, Poland in early 2019 to head up the English Department and to introduce custom-designed learning programs that speak to the need for pupils/students to learn by doing, by identifying their own passions, finding their own voices, creating their own content… and sharing it, getting feedback, absorbing challenges… and growing.

I’m Ewa, I am a service designer working currently in London and leading the first Service Design Fringe festival in London. I am a hybrid of an art historian, a designer with an entrepreneurial spirit and experience that has led me through a diverse range of collaborative projects. I would love to see this project grow and popularise the values & ways of working that I - as a designer - have been privileged to learn & practice in my everyday work.

What region are you located in?

  • Europe

Where are you located?

Poznan holds the status of being politically progressive; perhaps thanks in large part to its many institutions of higher education. We're nestled among forests, fields and numerous lakes, just a three hour drive away from Berlin to the west, our capital Warsaw to the east and the Baltic seaside in the north. The city comes in a size that feels just about right for many people: cozy enough to feel safe and familiar, yet large enough to offer multiple options for education, work and leisure.

Attachments (1)

OpenIDEO - The Attachment.pdf

Time Capsule Project - Learning Across Borders: The Long and Short


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carolyn Trotman-Grabek

Darry Strickland excited to share that the button has revealed itself! There is an updated version of the attachment with some outcomes of the conference. Maybe it will shed some light on where we are at now. As Ewa Dominiak mentioned we are looking to push this idea to the next phase.

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