Online Curriculum Projects

What are Online Curriculum Projects?geo.jpg
  • Online curriculum projects provide authentic structured curriculum activities for students, using the internet (particularly web and email technologies).
  • Students find them fun, motivational,engaging, challenging, different, exciting and relevant.
  • They are built around a particular concept or theme, have a set duration and are designed to meet curriculum objectives.
  • They may support outcomes in one learning area or serve as an integrating activity across learning areas.
  • Online curriculum projects typically involve online research, web publishing and communication beyond the classroom.
  • Many involve collaborative work undertaken with students and teachers of different regions, nations, backgrounds and cultures.
  • Online curriculum projects are recognised as providing valuable teacher professional development opportunities as well as opportunities to improve and extend student learning.

What can participation in online projects do for you and your class?
  • It can break the isolation of typical classrooms. You can reach out to people and to learning opportunities from all over the world.
  • It can allow you and your students to experience people, places, and activities not available in other ways (for example, Mars ... up close and personal!)
  • It can make learning more enjoyable and engaging.
  • It can put the student in the driver's seat while teachers provide the "map" to the desired destination.
  • It can allow you and your students to be mentored and to mentor others.
  • It can encourage your students to provide service to your community and to those in need, near and far.
  • It can allow you and your students to be active global citizens, participating in "history in the making."
  • It can provide relevant, real-life experiences for tomorrow's citizens.
  • It can level the playing field for adults, children, ethnic groups, gifted students, disabled learners, and people of different cultures and socio economic backgrounds.

Benefits for Students

Projects enable students to develop:
  • research and critical thinking skills
  • experience with new technologies
  • cultural awareness
  • the habit of getting involved in community issues.

What to consider when selecting an online project.
Online projects vary from requiring a great deal of online collaboration and input to those that do not require any.
Therefore, some of the following items may not be relevant when assessing an online curriculum project.

  • Is the project built on sound curriculum and educational soundness?
  • Is there a clearly defined purpose, process and structure?
  • Have you got time to plan for the integration of the project into my existing teaching plan?
  • Is there a project web site and does it provide enough information for your participation?
  • Is there a clear need for participants to communicate and collaborate?
  • Are there clear outcomes, actions and/or products for the project?
  • Is there a realistic timeline for the project?
  • Is the intended age group for the project clearly stated and represented by the project?
  • Are the commitment levels required clearly stated and can you meet them?
  • Are the technology requirements of the project stated and can you meet them?
  • Are there enough participants for the project to be a success?
  • Are there enough relevant resources for the project?
  • Is there a designated coordinator for the project?
  • Can you be flexible throughout the project?

Project Planning Tips and Considerations

Links to curriculum
  • Base the project on a subject you must teach, a product you want students to develop or an outcome you wish students to achieve.
  • Focus on specific tasks and outcomes rather than just an unstructured exchange of information which some keypal projects foster.
  • Base your project on successful models with a variety of activities, tasks and events.
Setting of goals
  • Identify specific goals, tasks and outcomes you want to achieve throughout the project.
  • Maintain direction throughout the project.
  • Advertise your project 6 weeks prior to the commencement date. This gives time to recruit participants and allow them to develop an understanding of the project and plan for its integration into their teaching plans.
  • Make the timing of the project milestones well known.
  • If the project is international, be aware of holiday periods of international countries, especially those in the northern hemisphere.
  • Meet your own deadlines.
  • Student involvement
  • What do you want students to learn? Plan for a variety of activities, tasks, actions and products which vary in the level of resources required.
  • Involve students in the coordination of the project setting up student management teams to coordinate many of the project responsibilities.
  • Plan to have some fun.
  • Aim to involve more than 3 classes in the project to ensure the project survives if people drop out which often happens.
  • Make expectations well known.
  • Have a range of expectations for levels of student involvement.
  • Some students will strive to meet high expectations.
  • Be sure to involve the project participants. Don’t just ask for people to contribute, share the outcomes and products.
  • Get commitment from the project participants where possible.
  • Provide feedback continually throughout the project.
  • Update your project web site to reflect changes in the project.
  • Provide leaderships
  • Be a mentor, helper, welcomer, listener, learner, etc
  • Maintain communication with the project participants even when the project is complete, you may wish to involve them in future projects.
  • If possible, try out your project at the local level to iron out any problems.Keep a log book through the project recording project developments, highs and lows.
  • Flexibility
  • You may need to change directions and emphasis once the project is up and running. Be flexible and respond to the needs to the project and the participants.

Projects sites