Connecting classes across continents

Marc FaulderCase study, Collaboration, Elementary / Primary

Here’s how two schools – from UK and India, worked together on a collaborative book.

For the past 7 years our Executive Head Teacher Philip Palmer has been the lead link between our schools here in Nottingham (Burton Joyce and Cropwell Bishop) and St. Francis Xavier school in Goa, India.

For two weeks each year, Phil spends time working with the staff and students of the schools. The project is funding by The British Council and supported by Nottingham Forest Football Club also. Last year, Phil’s visit supported the launch of our school blogs and kick started Skype Classroom projects.

Philip Palmer at St Francis Xavier School in Goa

This year, he set out to make a multi-touch book on a single iPad and create a collaborative text about the two localities. My first attempt at creating a teacher authored textbook using iBooks Author came about at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) institute in San Diego (2014), and with a group of Early Years ADEs we authored a book about Rancho Cuyamaca.

I shared this project with Phil and it shaped our vision for this project.

Before the visit

Starting at Burton Joyce, before the visit, I spent time with Phil using Book Creator and working with groups of pupils from across the school. Some of these children were Digital Leaders and others were children with an interest in this school link.

Burton Joyce from where I stand

The Digital Leaders took the Rancho Cuyamaca example text that I authored and built a book about their school around this structure. This was an important step to take as both texts from England and India needed the same structure in order to be combined at the end of the project.

Children’s work from around the school on our local area was also included in the text, so this was a case of curating our existing content as well.

The book was finished in a matter of days, outside of lesson time, and Phil was prepared with a single iPad, a folder with specific apps for this project and a Griffin Survivor iPad Air case!

During the visit

Whilst in India, Phil shared the Burton Joyce and Rancho Cuyamaca book with a group of students at St. Francis Xavier school.

Students from St. Francis Xavier School, IndiaThese children were immediately inspired and took ownership of the iPad for the duration of his stay. The iPad travelled with them, to and from school, as they documented school life and local life.

The iPad empowered the children in both schools to produce authentic content about their localities, which when curated really brings the global dimension to their life.

The comparisons made between the two localities are genuine and meaningful.

After the visit

When Phil returned to Nottingham, the Book Creator book was 89 pages in length, packed with videos and photographs of the school, children and home life.

Inside our school: St Francis Xavier

The children had clearly spent a lot of time researching their local area and gathered content from secondary sources too. The book needed chopping in to smaller sections to be exported from the iPad to the MacBook and combined with the Burton Joyce book on iBooks Author.

From iBooks Author we then published to the Apple iBooks Store, (you’ll need an iTunes Connect account for publishing books). The process was new to me but simple, step-by-step instructions built in to the publishing process easily assisted me.

Front cover, as viewed in iTunes Download ‘Connecting Classes Across Continents’ from the iBooks Store

This project shows the power that one iPad and one MacBook can bring to a school.

We intend that this book will be the first in a series of ‘Connecting Classes Across Continents’ books – and through our link with a school in Japan, and links with other Apple Distinguished Educators, I’m sure there will be many more books published by our school.

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