Archive for Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Free State students meet with their English counterparts via the Web

During video conference, Free State class learns about life across the pond

Free State High School students got a British perspective on pop culture and politics Wednesday. Students in a political course linked up to British students via videoconference.

October 8, 2008


You could feel the tension in Room 226 at Free State High School.

The students weren't sure if they were about to be entertained or embarrassed.

And after students from an English prep school imitated American accents, it was probably a little bit of both.

Thanks to technology at Free State High, Bobby Nichols' advanced-placement senior politics class participated in the Lawrence school district's first international video conference, when the class discussed pop culture and politics with students from the Mildenhall College of Technology in eastern England.

"It was awesome, because it was before the elections and we wanted to see what they thought of how Americans do elections," said senior Gelareh Samandi. "It was so amazing to meet with the typical British kids over there."

The conversations, broadcast by two Web cameras posted on classroom walls, took place in real time and are the first in a series planned throughout the school year, Nichols said.

"The beginning objective is to break down stereotypes and to find out that British students and American students actually have a lot in common," Nichols said. "We will take these first initial meetings and segue it into the political sphere, and looking at how the world views American politics, how we view British politics."

The British students were particularly interested in how the 30 FSHS students viewed the presidential election, and which candidate they supported.

After a resounding show of support for Sen. Barack Obama, the British students replied with an enthusiastic cheer.

The Mildenhall students said they enjoyed several American television shows, such as "Scrubs," and expected American teenagers to be divided into cliques, as depicted in movies. Free State students were surprised to see that Mildenhall students didn't wear uniforms, and learned that rugby and greyhound racing are some after-school activities in Mildenhall.

The British students asked how the economic crisis was affecting students in Lawrence. Free State senior Kenny Myers told them how paying for college is going to be harder.

"I really want to go out of state, but I'm not really considering it as much," he said.

Nichols said the chance to talk to students in a foreign country "makes the world a smaller place."

"I mean, live conversation with someone from another country? That's invaluable," he said.


denak 9 years, 2 months ago

This is such a great opportunity. I think the kids will enjoy it when they run into a "language barrier." During the first Gulf War, there was a unit of British soldiers that worked with us, and from time to time, even though we all spoke "English" we would run into an language barrier because we didn't understand or know the common venacular and slang from each other's respective countries.It was always fun to teach them "American" and for us to learn "English."Dena

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