the Horizon Project- sister to Flat Classroom

I’m still trying to figure out the Flat Classroom Project. So far I understand that there are two main places to look for information- the wiki and the Ning space. On the wiki, you can reach each of the participating schools’ wikis. On the Ning space, everyone participating in the project posts information, uploads media, and contributes to discussions. I noticed a new post on the Ning for the Flat Classroom about the Horizon Project. It’s described as the sister project to Flat Classroom. The Horizon Project Ning page is broken into smaller subgroups with very interesting topics (that are relevant to our class discussions). Some of the topics include:

  • Shift of content production to users (Wikipedia)
  • Games as Pedagogical Platforms
  • Data Mashups (what are those?)
  • I surfed through some of the information posted on each of the subtopics, and it seems that students are in charge of researching and reporting on each topic in a small group. Some groups were not getting along, based on the postings, and I can imagine that it would be frustrating to collaborate with people who lived all over the world. It can be challenging enough for students to get things done when they are all sitting at the same table, let alone add in different locations, time zones, work styles, and personality differences (amplified by cultural differences). I think it is valuable for students to participate, but can imagine that teachers need to support their students in a variety of ways in order to make the interaction a positive one.

    Here is the wiki for the Horizon Project.

    Flat Classroom

    I joined the Flat Classroom Project, but my membership had to be “reviewed”. Finally, I got an email saying that I was an official member. When we did a google search in class and I checked my name, the Flat Classroom site came up first with my name and I took a screenshot. I am member #237. So I’ve been exploring the project to see how teachers can use it in the classroom. I’ve noticed that participating classes use a Ning to interact and communicate in a variety of ways such as:

  • .mp3’s from students (the music seems to actually be created BY the students)
  • photos
  • discussion board postings
  • individual school Nings and wikis
  • videos (some are for fun, some are created by students with an instructional purpose)
  • Here is an example of a student-produced instructional video:

  • Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Project

    flat classroom=flat world (as explained by Thomas L. Friedman)

    As I’ve been reading about the flat classroom project, I’ve been wondering why it’s called flat classroom. Turns out, the project is based on the novel “The World is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman. Friedman explains a cascade of “flattening” events, such as the fall of the Berlin wall, the emergence of common software programs, and outsourcing. This flat world is a global platform to share information and work, regardless of time, distance, and even language.


    I looked into the flat classroom project, but had to overcome the ning obstacle first. Ning is a social networking group. I followed the link from flat classroom to ning and noticed that all of the members on the homepage looked like they knew what they are doing. Great photo quality of the profile pics and professional looking pictures (vs. some of the people on the main page for myspace). This assuaged my fears of using ning with students, which I would have to do if I joined the flat classroom project. I registered with great trepidation- I had to name my social network. Do I use my school’s name? Do I write something generic? Am I going to set myself up for problems if I am “discovered” by students online? I panic. And then I register my network as middle school science students. And I’m lucky because I even managed to get the web address: More on ning to come later- is anyone else a member?