Open Discovery Space

When Gaydo and Agios Spiridonas Nicosia started a Open Discovery Space inspired collaborative project using folk songs and poems to learn about Byzantine Border Protectors little did either school know that they were about to change the educational experience of one little girl on a depopulated rural island in Greece. But this is exactly what happened.

Once the Byzantine Border Project began Kyriaki Triantafillidi, a teacher at Gaydos Primary School, informed her colleagues in Cyprus that her school only had one student – first grader Ioanna. When Alexandros Kofteros, a science teacher at Agios Spiridonas Nicosia heard about Ioanna’s situation, he immediately thought of his own son who was also in first grade and set forth with Mrs. Kyriaki to investigate ways to bring Ioanna in contact his son’s class.

Using SKYPE, the teachers arranged to initially introduce Ioanna to two students at Agios, and then ultimately the whole first grade class of 20 pupils. During a first introductory lesson in Science & Environmental Education, teachers and students spent most of the time getting familiar each other. During the second lesson, they used Skype and screen sharing (using a video projector and interactive whiteboard) to view the same presentations and material.

Although Mr. Kofterous and his colleagues found Skype a brilliant tool for communicating with a remote student like Ioanna and her teacher, they ultimately decided to use the Moodle LMS and a synchronous open source collaboration platform, BigBlueButton (www.mathisis.org) to improve the integration of Ioanna and Mrs. Kyriaki into the Agios classroom. Using BigBlueButton, they were able to upload presentations, share applications and most importantly, write on a shared virtual whiteboard.

The two schools now plan to move beyond Science & Environmental Education lessons, and integrate Ioanna and her experience of being an only child on a small remote island into additional subjects such as history and language. For Easter, for example students from both schools will prepare short oral presentations on how Easter is celebrated in Cyprus and Greece. After this project, each school plans to prepare a short presentation about their respective islands and schools.

Thanks to this innovative online collaboration between Gaydos in Greece and Agios Spiridonas in Cyprus, Ioanna no longer has to study alone. With luck, others like her won’t have to either as more and more schools embrace the ability of common ICT tools like SKYPE and Moodle to empower teachers across Europe to enrich the educational experience of their students.

 

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