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Class-to-Class Program

En Francais: Programme Classe à  Classe: partenariat en-ligne des élèves des écoles Françaises et Russes.

Partnerships between Russian and American schools

Classrooms was founded in 1998 by Dr. Ray Kronquist. Ray also teaches an online physics course at Mission College in Santa Clara, California.

For several years, Virtual Classrooms has provided online tutoring services to K-12 and college students in the U.S. using tutors in Russia.

Now, Virtual Classrooms is beginning a new program, which we call "Class-to-Class".

The idea for this program arose out of meetings Ray had with a number of Russian high school teachers in Akademgorodok in Novosibirsk this summer. These teachers were all very enthusiastic about a program for their students to work over the Internet with students in the U.S. A description of the program ideas follows:

Program Summary:

A Russian high school class of students with good English skills would partner with a U.S. high school class, and all of the students would have partners in the other school. They would first get to know each other through Internet videoconferences. Then, they would work on projects, which would be posted on the schools' web sites.

The purpose of this program is to improve the students' foreign language knowledge, their academic knowledge and their knowledge of a culture different from their own. It is our hope that this program would grow to a large number of students, and the better knowledge of foreign cultures would lead to a more peaceful world.

Program Details:

1. Each student would have a partner in the other school. Both the American and Russian class would be divided into pairs of students, one from Russia and one from the U.S. Each pair of students would meet on-line for sessions about 1.5 to 2 hours long each week. During the first meetings students would get acquainted; they would talk about themselves, about their families and their pets, about their hobbies and interests, about the cities where they live and schools where they study; they would exchange their photos or have Internet videoconferences. These would help students to get to know better their partners and the culture of the other country. Then the instructors would help each pair of the students to find the subject for their collaborative projects, and then each pair of students would start to work on their own project.

2. There are a great number of topics that could be offered for students' projects, and the instructor, who would be responsible for this program, could suggest project topics, or the students could select other topics. For example, a project could be devoted to study and/or comparison of U.S. and Russian literature, art, history, economics, political system, social system, geography or attitudes. Also, students could choose exact or natural science (math, physics, chemistry, biology etc.) topics and make small scientific research studies on them. For example, a physics instructor could suggest a question to answer like that: "How should we run in a puddle and not become wet?" This is not a usual textbook problem and would require experimental and theoretical work. Students would have to make their own research, to find the material in books, on the Internet and collaborate together on the project.

3. During the semester, students would write the reports on what they were doing, and at the end of the semester, they would write a final report on their projects. These reports could be PowerPoint presentations, web-sites, or Word documents, so with the help of their teachers, students would get familiar with such useful tools as MS PowerPoint, MS Word, HTML.

4. What would the on-line meetings look like? Since Novosibirsk and California have a 14 hours time difference, on-line sessions could be scheduled for evenings (California time), since many American students have computers and Internet access at home. Russian students could get on-line at the same time from their school's computer lab, which would be morning in Novosibirsk. To communicate on-line, students would need to have web-conference software like NetMeeting installed on their computers. This software allows participants to have a videoconference (if at least one of the sides has a web-camera), to have an audio conference (students would need earphones and microphones to talk), to make drawings and insert photos on the whiteboard and to exchange text messages in the text chat. Thus, this software would allow students to communicate easily and efficiently, to exchange ideas, to discuss problems and to work together on the collaborative project. Also, students could use e-mail, instant messengers (AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN messenger, ICQ) and discussion boards to communicate with their classmates and the partner class.

What would the students gain?

  1. Team working experience;
  2. Experience in a real international project;
  3. Better knowledge and better understanding of foreign culture;
  4. Learning to be more tolerant of other cultures and countries;
  5. Skills in Internet communication;
  6. Experience in putting in writing their ideas and knowledge in a clear, well-structured way while making their reports;
  7. Computer skills: NetMeeting, MS PowerPoint, MS Word, HTML, Internet search engines etc.;
  8. Improvement of English knowledge (for Russian students);
  9. Knowledge that students would get working on their research;
  10. Research experience.
  11. Making new friends and having fun

Participants' Roles and Responsibilities:

The Russian school would be responsible for:

  1. Encouraging students (of the Russian school) to regularly participate in on-line meetings for their partners;
  2. Checking if students participate in on-line sessions regularly;
  3. Providing the computer class in the morning time for on-line sessions;
  4. Providing the help for students if they need it by the instructor coordinating the program in the class, by English teacher and probably also by the computer techniques instructor.

The American school would be responsible for:

  1. Encouraging students (of the American school) to regularly participate in on-line meetings for their partners;
  2. Checking if students participate in on-line sessions regularly;
  3. Providing the help for students if they need it by the instructor coordinating the program in the class and probably also by the computer techniques instructor;
  4. Financial support for the program (supporting Virtual Classrooms' tutors time to coordinate and manage the program and covering some Internet costs of the Russian school.)

Virtual Classrooms would be responsible for:

  1. Providing a person which would coordinate the whole project;
  2. Installing all the necessary software for web communication in Russian schools and providing the instructions on installing for American schools;
  3. Providing several training sessions for students and their instructors in both schools on using the software;
  4. Regular (weekly) monitoring of the project, and reading students' reports;
  5. Some group Internet meetings with students in both schools to ensure all pairs of students are on track to complete their projects.
  6. Providing any other help that students or the instructors would require;

For Further Information

In Russia, contact Nina Rinskaya at nina@virclass.com

In the U.S., contact Ray Kronquist at ray@kronquist.com , (408) 929-9066


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