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Friday, June 03, 2011

Globalisation races

Over the last week, I have observed and then attempted a lesson from my colleague, David Marshall (@davie_marsh on twitter) which worked very well for the theme of globalisation. David had come up with a simple groups activity which perfectly illustrated what he called ‘time travel’, but in a wider sense, the ‘shrinking’ of distance due to a number of factors. David chose communication to approach this and I’m writing up how I used the same ideas in my lesson yesterday.
When I knew I would be observing David, I decided to send out a message on twitter to see how far it could go within 50 minutes, unbeknown to the students. The results were staggering, as the map above shows. We had 130+ responses and covered five continents. I’ll come back to this later in terms of how we used it in the lesson.
When the class arrived, I asked them to write down what they had for dinner the previous evening. We left this with the promise of returning to it later. I then explained the activity as set out by David. I asked for the fastest runners in the class to form a group. We then identified six students with mobile phones, fully charged, who could exchange each others numbers. Finally, the rest of the class would form a ‘Chinese Whispers’ line. Each class would be given the same message which would be distributed outside, as we would need space for our runners.
When the class had decanted and reassembled on the front lawns, the message (a definition of globalisation) was distributed. The mobile phone group had to text the message round the group, the runners had to pass the message in a relay and the Chinese Whisperers, well, they had to whisper it along a line of people. The runners set off like the clappers, the whisperers quickly lost large chunks of the message and the texters sent, received and forwarded in a race which became quite competitive. First to finish were the whisperers, but only one word of the message had survived in its original state. We discussed how, pre-technological advances, word of mouth would have been a common way to share information, but also how some of the information became distorted and changed. The texters were a very close second. Of all the groups, they were the only ones who could relay the message back. They had quickly distributed information between each other and, really, distance was not an obstacle. The runners were last to finish and also struggled to recall what the message was.
This was ideal for illustrating how communications advances have revolutionised the way that we exchange information and ideas across geographical boundaries. The Arab Spring is a perfect news example of this, but we returned to the classroom and looked at where our tweet had gone. It was quite amazing that in the short time that we had been outside, our words could travel to Christchurch, NZ and back with many other stops, but the exercise was also useful for looking at some of the less desirable aspects of globalisation. We had one reply from Africa and none from South America, so we were able to talk about access to technology and how some people benefit but, in many ways, some people become further disadvantaged through the idea of this shrinking world. It set an absolutely perfect context for our exploration of this theme through football and fashion later.
Finally, we came back to dinner. The first two students I asked had macaroni cheese and chicken korma, the third had more traditional food, but had rice as an accompaniment. We were able to tie globalisation into not only the exchange of ideas and information, but also things like food, clothes and so on. A thoroughly enjoyable lesson to watch and to teach. Why not share your opinion with @davie_marsh ? ;-)

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous


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