In the midst of our first multi-person project, our online AP Government class is learning to collaborate with each other from across the country by making use of today’s online tools. Our assignment is quickly turning into a lesson on collaboration as we perfect our communication skills. Because most of us are in our last two years of high school, we have already learned so much about communicating with a group in and outside of a classroom; however, this online course now calls for new skills, taking learning outside of the classroom to a whole new level.
As we embark on a project to design an Electoral System with the objective to improve democracy, we are quickly learning to take advantage of the resources available to us at our finger tips.
Having already completed two Skype sessions with my four-person group, I am impressed by our ability to stay on task, working towards our goal to develop a new Electoral System. Requiring an overwhelming amount of research, we have learned to make use of Google documents, which allows us to constantly update the group on new information. As we contribute our own ideas, we also listen to others’ ideas. In my experience thus far, I have been impressed by my group mates in their focus and creativity. Seeing as how our online course is well underway, we have all developed great skills for using internet tools, such as Google documents, Voicethread, Twitter and Skype, to communicate with our teacher and peers. For our project, we must use these familiar tools to communicate our ideas with each other. My group mates and I are learning to share our ideas and research in a Google document, working as a sharepoint for all our new research.
At first, a multi-person project seems quite complicated. Having group mates from Hawai’i, California and Tennessee, and myself on the East Coast, we are learning to work together to assign research deadlines and schedule Skype meetings, despite the four different time zones. That’s right – four different time zones! Our first Skype session ended with our agreeing on a first deadline for preliminary research on the Electoral Systems of each region. During our second Skype session, we discussed the requirements for voting already in existence and what changes we would like to implement. By incorporating everyone’s ideas, we are excited to see where our collaboration will lead us. Our next step is to create a WikiPage on Haiku, another online tool, to display our newly designed Electoral System.
In designing our new Electoral System, we are given the responsibility to improve democracy. Compared to other industrialized representative democracies, the United States ranks low in terms of voter turnout. In our project, we are addressing concerns, such as, why is turnout so low in American elections? or is it fair to the majority when a candidate with the largest minority of votes becomes the people’s representative? Also important, Is the American system biased in favor of wealthy candidates? My group mates and I are eager to create an overall fairness to all Americans. In our research, we are developing opinions of the Electoral Systems already in place, and we are forming opinions of what changes would benefit Americans in a new Electoral System.
This project allows us to form views and let our ideas come alive. After all, we are 21st century learners!