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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Classrooms Without Borders: A Worldwide Learning Environment

George Lucas reflects on the promise of the Internet as a resource for bringing learners together.
By George Lucas

George Lucas and Milton Chen reviewing a CD of GLEF's new documentary films.

Credit: Edutopia

Since September 11, the need to educate American children about the larger world has become even more urgent. Perhaps now we will see the need to go beyond brief accounts in textbooks and the memorizing of facts to teach more deeply about the profound similarities and differences of the world's peoples.

With the Internet, we have a marvelous tool for making history and culture come alive. Now, students can learn directly from the most current sources of knowledge around the world, including experts, libraries, and research centers. Through the exchange of e-mail, photos, and multimedia reports, and by participating in virtual field trips, they can communicate with students and teachers in other countries.

Years ago, I saw the power of these direct connections through a project of the National Geographic Society. I heard about American and Russian students making acid rain measurements and using the Internet to share their findings. Together, they were not only learning about science, but about each other, comparing their families and their favorite clothing, food, and music. They were understanding perhaps the most important lesson we can teach our students: We are one world.

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