One of the most powerful things about the world wide web is the way it brings information from all over the globe into our home. I can look up the weather in Cannes, find pictures of the erupting volcano in Iceland for Little Miss Techie, and take a virtual field trip to Egypt to show our kids where their grandparents just traveled. I have always been a fan of virtual field trips and was quite excited to find ProjectExplorer.org.
Today’s Tech Savvy Guests, Matthew Boggie and Jenny Buccos are here to share how your children can cross borders for free via ProjectExplorer.org and travel to places like Jordan and South Africa. Jenny is currently in Cairo and just got word that they will be in Portugal this fall to bring new content to ProjectExplorer.org.
Crossing Borders via ProjectExplorer.org
By Matthew Boggie & Jenny M. Buccos
Educators have always strived to incorporate the latest technology in their classrooms. From filmstrips to Smart Boards, teachers have use technologies to engage their students. With this vital connection between technology and education in mind, ProjectExplorer.org was created to provide students and teachers with free multimedia materials and lesson plans geared toward creating the next generation of global citizens.
ProjectExplorer.org is an award-winning educational website that began back in 2003 to help educate students about the wider world in which they live. Since our inception we’ve been on the cutting edge of Internet technologies, and have evolved throughout the last seven years to keep pace with the changing educational climate.
In starting the site, I knew that reaching out to every style of learner – readers, listeners, and watchers – was critical, so video was always a critical component for us. When we began production on our first series (Shakespeare’s England), YouTube hadn’t yet launched, and while web video had been around for a little while, we had to write our own rules for creating multimedia experiences online for young users. We focused on delivering Flash Video, since it was the plug in that had the largest base of users. It seems that we picked the right technology, as YouTube and other video sites that launched since then all used this same model.
The online videos we create, and their accompanying educational blogs and other multimedia content, are geared toward learners as young as eight or nine years old, but also work for students in high school and beyond. To accomplish this, we needed to make the site as easy to use as possible, with consistent navigation controls and layout on every page, across every level.
More than that, however, we make sure that our videos and blogs speak directly to students as equals. So many sites, especially those geared toward children, speak in a voice that kids hear as lecturing. We strive to have our on-camera correspondents think and write in a way that shares a student’s natural sense of wonder and amazement. While most of our team has travelled, we are genuinely thrilled to get to see the world through ProjectExplorer.org and when we’re on location we know that enthusiasm comes through in our videos and educational blogs.
Since we launched ProjectExplorer.org the web has changed dramatically, and we, of course, have been changing with it. Some of our content is shared on YouTube and Facebook, to help draw users in who wouldn’t have found us through the usual searches and browsing. We’ve launched our own social networking site on Global Citizenship which driven directly from the interviews we’ve had on location, and through this site we invite students and teachers to contribute their voices to this unique global dialogue.
We’ve also gotten onto Twitter, helping drive traffic as well as wider awareness of global issues and news. We also use Twitter to help get the word out about integrating our site into the classroom linking breaking news and events to the pages we’ve created. These new methods of communication reach far beyond what email ever could, providing educators immediate access to classroom-ready content and lesson plans.
Parents and teachers alike are embracing the web in all its forms to educate their students, who are way ahead in trying new technologies and experiences. While these new opportunities are great for a wide variety of social and recreational uses, ProjectExplorer.org strives to create experiences that teach and inform. In an increasingly shrinking world where borders matter less and ideas matter more than ever, global awareness is critical to participating in a wider conversation at every age. Using the latest in web technology and communication, ProjectExplorer.org is creating that conversation.
Huge thanks to ProjectExplorer.org for sharing their wonderful site on Tech Savvy Mama!
Since ProjectExplorer is a free site and a nonprofit venture, they would love it if you might consider an online donation to support their mission of raising global citizens through virtual travel.
Matthew Boggie is a Senior manager at Accenture in their Media & Entertainment division. He has served as ProjectExplorer.org’s Technical Director since the organization’s inception in 2003. Jenny M Buccos is the Founder of ProjectExplorer.org and the series Director/ Producer. Ms. Buccos is the recipient of a GOLD Parent’s Choice Award for Excellence in Educational Programming.
No compensation was received for sharing this guest post. All images are courtesy of ProjectExplorer.org. I was asked very kindly by Jenny if I might suggest to my readers to make an online donation to ProjectExplorer.org to support their fall project in Portugal.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama