There is nothing more dangerous than the right answer to the wrong question – Peter Drucker
View a video introducing the program, its goals and mission HERE.
My school participated in the Freedom of Expression unit with the entire 7th grade of approximately 45 students.
What is Nodebook?
This is an online program where students from a number of schools collaborate in teams over a digital platform to discuss aspects of a particular global issue. They then work together to research and create a web report on a topic connected with the issue. It is being developed by
Each week is on a different theme to do with the issue. There is always a video to view and discuss that introduces the week’s theme followed by two case studies which students also read and discuss both in their classes and online. The remainder of the activities are to do with the selection of a topic, research and preparation of the final web report.
Initial student responses to the question “What values do you think are important for a global citizen?“
To understand in different perspective, so to be able to object or agree to things.
It is important to be able to watch what you say as a global citizen, especially about assuming things about races, when there are so many kids and friends around that are from different countries, that you might offend.
To be kind, and polite. To be able to freely share ideas, to know when the limit is when it comes to not being polite
I believe that human rights is the most important value that all citizens should have although some don\’t. I think that freedom of speech is the next most important value.
To think about other peoples perspective/human rights.
Making connections to service
After completing the project, students were asked to plan and carry out an action based on what they had learned. They spent a session on the service cycle and what types of actions they could consider.
The students ended up coming up with a range of different actions depending on their specific topic to do with Freedom of Expression. These included promoting positive messages, using different forms of communication, using social media to highlight the issue, and advocacy through promoting ideas both within the school and to the wider community.
The program encountered some logistical and methodological challenges. We incorporated the program into our normal weekly tutor sessions whilst borrowing a period from one other subject that was connected to the theme for that week.
This promoted the idea that Freedom of Expression was an issue that crossed different subject areas. It also gave a chance for more teachers to be part of the project. The problem was that through timetabling issues, often didn’t have the opportunity to introduce the subject related theme for that week so were more often than not just supervising students working independently on the Nodebook platform.
The participation from outside schools was also extremely limited which meant that the teams were essentially their classmates. Greater participation from the outside schools would have lead to some far more interesting and challenging discussions within the groups.
Some students got more out of the program than others. Below are some of the reflections students completed at the end of the project.
After working on nodebook I think that I do look differently at people and their perspectives and the way I talk to them. Because I now know that the people I am talking to have different rights and freedoms then I do.
If I see cyberbullying on social media to be honest I think I won’t step in just because I don’t want to be involved. If I see a friend of mine or a person I know then I think I am going to take action.
I know I will think about the news more, and how it might be limited to what they can shine light on. Especially in countries that limit what it’s people can view. With my group, we have made a video connected to gender inequality. My goal for that video is to reach about 100 views on social media.
The experience has encouraged me to take actions in the future even if they are small and insignificant.
Where to now
The key to the success of the program is full participation of the schools involved. Without this, the discussions are less challenging with the same perspective being voiced. One of the advantages of the program is that there is no formal assessment attached to it. Although I would be loathed to lose this aspect, in practical terms, if you are asking a school to devote enough time for the students to discuss and participate in the different activities, the program needs to be embedded in one main curriculum area. This means attaching MYP criteria assessment or at least the opportunity to assess some of the criteria to the program.
Too often students jump straight to the action phase or spend a cursory amount of time investigating the issue when participating in service learning. This program provides an opportunity for students to dive deeply into the issue and thus makes any actions that do eventuate more likely to be meaningful. The program certainly has a lot of potential and it will be very interesting to see how it develops to overcome the challenges I’ve set out, in the future.