OPEN MINDS Series
The Learning for Peace Project
History is often defined by conflict, war, civil strife, and terrorism. These are the common references as to what happened at a particular time or in a specific place. And as recent events demonstrate, they can occur anywhere without warning. Much of the media coverage of these events showcases the spectacular images we have come to identify with these conflicts. Scenes of battles, bombings, death, destruction, deprivation, and desperation are all too familiar to us.
But beyond the lenses of media coverage, there is a universal will among people to maintain as much order and normalcy of life as humanly possible. Instead of conflict, we need to focus on peace, tolerance and understanding between the peoples of different cultures and traditions. This includes the education of children. It is not only knowledge conveyed; it is hope for the future.
Live Videoconference Program Description
On May 29th 2002, Learning for Peace project hosted a live, 90-minute videoconferencing event from 13 selected schools in Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Manchester and Liverpool, UK; Dublin and Belturbet, The Irish Republic; Manama, Bahrain; and New York City, USA. The main subjects of the event were cross-cultural exchange, peace, and understanding. The event was hosted and moderated by OPEN President George Newman.
The live presentation projects took the form of art and design, literature, music [both performance of 'local culture' music or original compositions by the student(s)], and cultural/historical storytelling. The teachers worked with the students to prepare projects that were presented during the live videoconference
OPEN provided suggestions and guidance to teachers, teacher aides and students about how to prepare their presentations for the videoconferencing event. In this OPEN Learning for Peace website, we offer some presentation guidelines, suggested classroom preparation activities, and curriculum standards.
During the Learning for Peace Peace live event, students from each of the participating schools performed musical works, shared their stories and discussed their own artistic creations. Each class presentation was given a 10 minute time slot.
Our mission is to accommodate diversity and cultural expression by providing international learning forums and educational outreach for students to share and communicate their interests with one another through the exchange of music, art and cultural storytelling.
Through the Learning for Peace project, OPEN hopes students came to realize that they share a common experience of living in a time of uncertainty. They also learned from each other that they have many positive interests in common. By communicating and sharing these interests with one another, we hope they will begin to understand each other and hopefully develop enduring relationships.
Learning for Peace program introduced the students to one another via the Internet. Classes who did the live presentations on May 29th are still able to post their works and presentations, or supplemental art, music, etc. on the Website.
Other classes from around the world are also invited to create classroom or student profiles and also post Word documents of poetry, stories, .jpg format scanned art, MP3 music clips on the OPEN Website. Submissions should first be reviewed by teachers then submitted to email@example.com
Film/Video production crews and technology support teams at each live videoconference site documented the experiences of the students as they participated in the live event. From this body of work, OPEN will produce and edit a video program, which will be available for Webcast, and possible television, cable and video release.
Learning for Peace is the first program for the OPEN MINDS series of cross-cultural education programs.
Technology Utilized For Live Videoconference Event
OPEN is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of technology for learning to inspire students and teachers, and to allow for creative educational application development worldwide.
Without some very sophisticated networking technology this "live" international education exchange would not have been feasible.
All sites for the session were linked through an advanced technology called a multipoint bridge. This technology is generously provided by the City of New York. Michael Forte and his technical support team in New York were the technical control center managers for our project. Their bridge, also called an MCU (or multipoint control unit) can simultaneously connect up to 12 (or more) sites.
All sites dialed in using ISDN digital telecommunications technology to Michael's MCU, allowing all our international sites to hear and see each presenting site simultaneously. Mike's system also employed a split-screen (or multiple screen) technology feature so participants were able to see at least four conference sites on screen at once (or on four separate monitors or more in the case of the New York City network), that is if and when Mike's team engages this feature during the event.
If you wish more technical detail or have questions about network technology use, please write, George Newman, at firstname.lastname@example.org