I’m participating in “Collaborate for good“, a contest by Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate), in which you must propose a way to use a 50 seat room to make a difference in the world. As usual, there’s a lot of proposals from English-based countries , but not many from Latin America, so here’s my two cents:
Since 2009, I’ve been using Elluminate as a critical tool in the offering of open online courses, which have included participants from Colombia, México, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil (the entry point to these experiences can be found here, here and here). Sometimes I’ve used trial rooms although, in 2010, Elluminate’s Latin America regional director kindly provided a room so we could held our weekly synchronous sessions. Because of their experience with these courses, several organizations and people chose Elluminate to develop their own projects. In each of these experiences, all sessions were archived and made available to anyone interested.
At the time I’m working with Uruguayan teachers (who are part of the One Laptop per Child national initiative), facilitating a professional development process which aims to demonstrate the possibilities of the information and communication technologies available today, and to empower them to create networks of practice concerning technology integration in the classroom (more info here). This experience is developed in the open web, using free public tools. Elluminate (by means of LearnCentral’s host-your-own-webinar room) has been critical to enhance the sense of community and demonstrate the possibilities of web conferencing tools in the first part of this experience, going beyond presentations to engage participants in real-time collaborative online work. The results of this experience suggest that it has allowed teachers to rediscover a sense of possibility and to believe in their own ability to integrate technology.
We want to go bigger with this experience, trying to involve people from all over Latin America in the next months. That’s why a permanent Blackboard Collaborate room would be very useful to give further access to people involved in this experience, so they can start creating their own experiments, while getting in touch with an enhanced network of practitioners.
At the same time, I’m helping in a project with several people from consumers organizations from all around Latin America. These organizations are exploring the possibilities that social media bring to the promotion of citizenship participation and collective action in issues such as water regulation and consumer protection, for example. Again, an open Blackboard Collaborate room would allow for an enhanced sense of community and the chance to go faster in the creation of grassroots-based projects.
So, one Blackboard Collaborate room, and two ways to change the world, with a chance to discover more along the way. Two ways to empower Spanish-speaking Latin American teachers and citizens to figure out meaningful ways to use technology in their lives, and to make a difference in their local communities. Two ways to enhance ideas that have been tested and need help to grow.
(This has been cross-posted in the “Collaborate for Good” contest site )