by Maureen McTaggart
Visitors to BETT 2009 in Olympia, London, this week will get a daily opportunity for a world tour of learning with the video-conferencing sessions being run by not-for-profit Web 2.0 service Rafi.ki (Stand F70).
With more than 900 school members in 94 countries collaborating on cross-curricular projects, Rafi.ki has become a spine of secure communication in the global online learning world. Run by UK-based educational charity Gemin-i.org, which has more than 10 years of experience developing ICT tools for schools around the world, Rafi-ki offers a range of communication and collaboration tools including email, chat rooms and forums, as well as audio and video-conferencing.
By allowing students and teachers to collaborate on cross-curricular educational projects Gemi-ni founder Henry Warren says, “Rafi-ki provides an answer to the problems many schools have using ICT to support pupils’ learning in every subject.” And, while many of the downloadable resources and lesson plans on the site is designed by its own educational experts, Rafi.ki’s flexibility means schools can create their own projects.
Recently, as part of the Free and Fair Trade project, pupils from the United Nations International School in New York and St Augustine's in Ghana got together through video-conferencing and put Luciana Mermet, policy specialist on trade at the UNDP, in the hot seat to ask her questions like "In Fair Trade what is the role of the middle man?" or "How can people who aren't the growers justify making a profit?"
Video trips will drop in on schools in Ghana, Morocco and Kurdistan
Rafi-ki can be seen in action at BETT through a series of 30-minute curriculum-linked video-conferences between schools here and abroad. For example there’ll be discussions on fair trade with learners in Ghana and, for MFL discussion in French, with Moroccan schools. And the all-girls Koya Secondary School from Kurdistan, introduced to Rafi.ki by its UK partner Central Foundation Girls School in Tower Hamlets, will share information about Kurdish history and culture.
Alongside Rafi.ki, Gemi-ni will unveil Reflections, a recent toolkit specifically designed to support teachers' continuing professional development (CPD). It has been developed with Manchester City Learning Centre with support from the Teacher Development Agency for Schools (TDA) and allows teachers to film their lessons. They can watch and analyse them - and share them - later on, in the same way athletes and footballers study their own performances. Henry Warren says Reflections is already having a profound impact on the development of newly qualified teachers (NQTs). “It enables them to see first hand what impact their kinesics, proxemics and even the volume of their voice has on their teaching," he says. "And it's also been used to observe behavioral triggers in SEN pupils.”
Rafi-ki BETT stand F70
There will be live demonstrations of Reflections on the Gemi-ni stand at BETT by staff from Abraham Moss CLC and also a competition to win a £750 annual gold membership to Rafi-ki and a free webcam.
Rafi.ki video-conferencing sessions will involve the following schools:
The King John School, Benfleet, Essex
The Ravensbourne School, Bromley, Kent
Northfleet School for Girls, Kent
Mulberry School, Tower Hamlets
Koya Secondary School for Girls, Koya, Iraq
Al Massira, Morocco
St Augustine's, Ghana
Vidhya Secondary School, Nepal
Secondary School Nr 7, Petrosani, Romania
Žarko Zrenjanin Primary School, Serbia
A School from Tajikiistan to be confirmed