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Turn the volume up load, kick back, and learn about the greatest educational initiative on the planet.

For teachers who want to get involved, check out the amazing resources available, or register your class at www.deforestACTION.com today!

Your students will be the driving force of this project. They will work with the action agents in the field daily.  They will be responsible for saving the planet.

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The DFA Equation

How can young people around the world really make a difference to the forests of the planet?  And why do they think this will really make a lasting change?  Is this truly something that will engage them in learning across a range of discipline areas?  The answer is in the six parts to the DeforestACTION student project.

The DeforestACTION equation

The six components for learning and the future of life on the planet

 Part 1: Regrowing a rainforest with Dr. Willie Smits.

Thousands of hectares of destroyed forest in Indonesia will be returned to a healthy forest, rich in biodiversity. This will be a large scale implementation of Samboja Lestari (see Willie’s TED talk for how this will be achieved).

For $2US, young people are rainsing money to ‘buy’ 1 square meter of land for reforesting, and to be protect it for 100 years.  Soon students will be able to view their forest online, via high definition video cameras, and will be provided virtual tools to measure the growth of the various trees and plants in their personal patches. They will also be able to measure online how much carbon has been sequestered, how many animals can survive in their patch, and to explore the variety of plant life in their land. The funds raised using this model will be used to create nurseries, necessary environmental documentations / surveys, and to train local people to care for the land and preserve it, and other necessary expenditure to preserve the land on these conditions, and to save wildlife who inhabit them. ‘

Part 2: Earth Watchers

Using a range of satellite imagery, with the latest tools from Bing, and specially developed software by Geodan, students will be able to monitor the rainforests and protect them from illegal deforestation. See my earlier post – How School Students Can Save the Planet on One Year for more details.  Students will also be able to compare, contrast and analyse spatial data for a range of other hands on activities to help protect and regrow forests.

Part 3: Mobile and Interactive Games

DeforestACTION partners are developing a range of electronic games, to allow students to experience the challenges of living in the rainforests, by taking on the role of orangutans.  The Orangutan Survival Game will pull in real time data about the forests, so as the young people learn about orangutan survival, they will be accutely aware of what is happening to the forests.  If they find themselves playing in an area of the forest where deforestation is occurring, their character will die- even if they were doing everything right.  This is the reality of life for orangutans.  Students could even play these games on a smartphone like Windows Phone etc.

Part 4: Dome Tree

Dome Tree

Students will help build the worlds largest tree as a centre for orangutan protection, preservation, rehabilitation and research

Dome tree will be the worlds largest tree.  Initially constructed using steel and concrete, this 70m high tree will be coated with a fertilizer coating to accelerate the growth of strangler fig shoots.  In approximately six years, this construction will be completely covered by a network of figs, and will become a rehabilitation centre for orangutans rescued by the DeforestACTION team. 

Dome Tree will feature touch screen technology, high definition video cameras, observation decks and high tech laboratories. Students will be able to view it online and in person.  The first stone of Dome Tree was layed in March 2011  with the Sultan of Yogyakarta.  This is a long term project, with an expected completion date of 2016-2018.

Part 5: Orangutan Rescue and Conservation:

The rescue and care of critically endangered orangutans from devastated regions is a central aspect of the project.Online participants will be able to monitor the progress of the orangutans being cared for at the Sintang Orangutan Centre and even adopt their own orangutan. For $5US a student will care for an orangutan for a day, including food, shelter and veterinary care.

Part 6: Global Awareness, Assistance to Local Landholders and Incubation of New Economies

Palm oil farming is literally destroying our planet. It has been estimated up to 40% of the products we buy in supermarkets contains some palm oil. There are real alternatives to palm oil that are both better for our health, and environmentally sustainable.  Through DeforestACTION, young people will seek to create global awareness about the destruction caused by palm oil farming, and to actively pressure consumers and producers for change.

One of the great myths palm oil companies would have us believe is farming palm oil is good for local landowners.  It is not.  In fact, it is catastrophic for locals, destroying their livelihoods, and leaving them homeless and without income.

A key aspect of DeforestACTION is providing local land owners with sustainable income, new economies and ongoing ability to generate an income in their villages by utilizing the land effectively.  For this project, the effective use of sugar palms (a highly valuable tree that lives in the rainforest and depends on the ecosystem for survival) will be a key aspect of this project.

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How do teachers learn to get their students involved in global collaborative projects? Moving from the four walls of a traditional classroom to the exciting world of global collaboration is not only essential, it’s exciting and, as we’re seeing with DeforestACTION, can even change the world. If you get it right, students learn more, are more engaged, feel more empowered, and become proud contributors to a global society.
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 But, initially, it can be quite daunting and confusing for teachers. Fortunately, there’s a simple and powerful new online course to help you, and it’s run by TakingITGlobal – so you know it’s the best in the world.
TIG Courses
TakingITGlobal Education (TIGED) run the perfect course for teachers looking to extend learning beyond the classroom.

This exciting new course is run online – so you get the full elearning experience, and the facilitators will model the latest online learning strategies.  Here’s the outline:

The goal of the Introduction to Global Project-based Learning accredited course is to develop teachers’ understanding of and competencies in project-based global education. Utilizing the TakingITGlobal for Educators (TIGed) platform, we will explore why global education is so vital currently, and how e-technologies can bring the world into the classroom. In particular, this course will explore: a variety of specific approaches to project-based global education, including student-driven digital media projects; examples of effective global learning projects and what makes them successful; solution- and student-driven approaches to project-based learning; the use of TIGed virtual classrooms to support global learning; ways to meet the challenges of global education; and methods of determining the success of global projects, particularly in connection to a variety of educational benchmarks.

Through this e-course, participants will:

  • Explore how to utilize collaborative, project-based, student-driven, technology-enabled, international learning projects to meet traditional benchmarks in creative ways;
  • Identify the components and qualities associated with successful global learning projects, and how to recruit and work with partners in their implementation;
  • Learn how to employ TIGed virtual classroom tools to support global learning projects;
  • Investigate how global learning projects can be designed to meet specific educational standards; and
  • Determine strategies for overcoming challenges and obstacles that may arise in executing global learning projects, as well as for monitoring and evaluating success.

For the more advanced teachers, there are other courses.  You can check them out, or register here.

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Imagine if young people from across the planet could log into their PCs and start a face to face chat with a real orangutan, where technology acted as a translator, allowing these young people to understand exactly what the orangutans were trying to say.

What might students learn from these amazing ‘people of the jungle’, particularly as they gain an appreciation of their intelligence and personality by engaging with animals  for the first time ever via meaningful dialogue or complex games?   What kind of respect might students develop for other species when they are beaten by them in memory games or other challenges that orangutans excel at?   Could young people build meaningful relationships, even friendships with orangutans, while sharing information about how they view the world?  

The answer is YES, and this is exactly what the DeforestACTION team are putting together, based on another of the inspired ideas of Dr.Willie Smits.

touchscreens

Young people can interact, talk and play with orangutans online

The first step has been to install some state of the art multi-touch Windows 7 machines (housed in high impact resistant frames and cases) for the orangutans to use.   This is nothing new.  The Georgia Zoo in Atlanta has been experimenting with touch screen games, interactions and menu selection for orangutans for years.

Students using Touchscreen

Students will be able to use their Windows 7 machines to interact and build relationships with orangutans

On the other side, students from across the planet will be able to log into a Windows 7 app, either on their PC or Smart Phone, and sign up to meet or play against an orangutan.  In simple memory games (e.g. flipping pairs of cards over to match up like cards), orangutans have a far better memory than most humans, so in playing these primary school type games, students (and adults) will typically lose.

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To truly make connections, we need to be able to read the facial expressions of the people (or animals) we are engaging with.  Humans are born with an incredible ability to decode many thousands of facial expressions in other humans.  A significant portion of the brain is dedicated to exactly this function.  In fact, most communication experts believe over 90% of our communication occurs through body language and facial expression decoding. 

What humans can’t do at all well is interpret facial expressions of other animals, including orangutans. 

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One of the most exciting developments in this project, is the adaption of some of the work being done by Professor Paul Ekman, who has been researching the link between emotions and facial expressions.

Software built on Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS) can taxonomize every human facial expression and convert them to animated format – this is used in movies like Avatar and other animated movies to ensure the characters we see on screen reflect the personalities behind the animations – think Mike Myers in Shrek.

Using new software to be released on the DeforestACTION site later this year,  it will be possible for avatars to translate the emotions  of orangutans into human terms in real time using avatars.  This will use Enkman’s FACS technology  mapped against orangutans (who also exhibit thousands of facial expressions).

Avatar translation

Students can understand the facial expressions and emotions of orangutans via avatars as they befriend them online.

So, students will know if an orangutan is smiling, laughing, frowning, bored, interested, angry etc.  They will know if an orangutan is happy to see them again – “hey, he recognized me”.  They will know if the orangutan is proud when he wins in a memory or pattern recognition game (especially when they see him/her rewarded with food for winning).

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As people increase their appreciation for and wonder of the animals who share this planet, resistance to destroying the habitats that sustain them will grow.  A global awareness of the importance and value of the animals in our world is essential in creating the support and activism required to halt the destruction of the forests.  The DeforestsAction team believe this technology will provide an important contribution to that awareness.

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Three primary schools in Victoria have analysed the academic results of students who are participating in DeforestAction and those who aren’t.  Students who were involved in the project are not only more engaged, but also have significantly higher learning outcomes in seemingly unrelated areas, particular numeracy and literacy.

It makes sense. Students are so engaged in the project, they want to write more, with a purpose. They want to solve problems more – because they feel they need to.  But what is so exciting about these reports is they are data driven.  Students in the same class levels, (some from the same class), who had been perfoming at the same level in a range of areas, are performing differently depending on whether they were involved in the project or not.

The ‘educational gurus’ have been talking about the importance of student directed learning, student voice, engagement, context and relevance for years.  That’s why collaborating for change is so important.  Because now we can prove it works.

Check out this very cool little clip from Dallas Primary School in Victoria.

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For the next online conference, we had schools talking face to face and sharing videos and project examples.

Hosted by the Centre for Global Education once again, this event was quite incredible.
Live Event 2

Just some updates on what has been happening around the DeforestAction community:

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This week, it was confirmed the name of the project would change from High Noon to Blueprints to Shout!  We have been working with the name “Blueprints for the Future” for the last several months, when it was agreed High Noon wasn’t well understood by young people.

So, today I changed the name of the blog from HighNoon to “The Global Shout!”.  And, I have registered the domain name to match.  So, now you can bookmark www.theglobalshout.com.

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