Jove Jankulovski: Digital Peacemaker
Credit: Indigo Flores
The Daring Dozen Q&A
How do you use the Web in your work?
Students, colleagues, and I use the Web to publish our work, share information, learn about other cultures and issues of interest, and interact and collaborate in areas of importance for mankind and our planet. Many of our project activities are hosted on the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) site, or at www.imor.org.mk (this site is written in Macedonian, but some of the projects are translated into English).
Which resources have inspired you and informed your work?
What inspired me the most is iEARN. Prior to learning about it, I wondered many times, "How can I achieve things I have in my mind?" This network gave me complete assurance that I was thinking in the right direction and energized me to go ahead and continue with my work.
Who are your role models?
There are many people that influenced me a lot, starting from my parents, my teachers, and my closest family. And, lately, I am more and more amazed by the young people I work with.
What advice would you give those who consider you a role model?
I would simply say that they need to try to look at things from many perspectives, aiming to appreciate and understand diversity, and to always look for similarities with others rather than differences.
What fundamental beliefs have guided your work?
We educators need to understand, appreciate, and respond to students' needs, requests, and ideas. Young people sometimes lack self-confidence, but they never lack curiosity and ideas. They need to be understood, guided, and empowered rather than tutored and supervised.
Also, youth are always eager to work with information/communication technology. We should provide youth with access, tools (project-based learning), and an environment that empowers them to become productive citizens capable of facing the numerous challenges of the contemporary information society.
What is your mantra in the face of adversity?
We are more or less creators of our happiness, thus of our adversity, too. If things go wrong, I stop to reflect on what I have contributed to the situation and try to do things right. And, of course, I am always smiling -- this helps me a lot!
More to Explore:
A simple machine can tap the Internet to retrieve information, Macedonian teacher Jove Jankulovski says; it takes a human being -- an educated one -- to use the technology to create meaning.
In 2001, Jankulovski, who teaches computer science at Gorgi Naumov Secondary Electro-Mechanical School, in urban Bitola, saw an opportunity for just such a meaningful connection. That year, tensions had erupted between Macedonia and the Albanian refugees within its borders. Jankulovski had experience running several online projects linking schools within and outside Macedonia, so he created a project to connect Albanian and Macedonian youth online, naming it Building Bridges Over Borders by Using ICT and Project-Based Learning.
"Nobody dared in that time to reestablish or build links and understanding between Albanians and Macedonians," he writes by email. "The core idea was to start online communication between Albanian and Macedonian students to learn about similarities and become aware of the nonexistent differences invented and imposed by politicians, and to overcome them."
Jankulovski and his collaborators set up a small Internet lab in each country. After school, in several phases, they trained some 400 people -- a handful of teachers, but mostly teenage students, including some "student master trainers" who later coached their peers -- in basic computer and Internet skills and, ultimately, Web site development.
Then the project leaders gave the youths a means to use these skills: online forums where they could discuss their hobbies, cultures, and teen life, and issues such as drugs and HIV.
In subsequent projects and exchange trips between the two countries, teens have created exhibits on their respective cultures, written an abridged Albanian-English-Macedonian dictionary, and developed and analyzed a questionnaire to illuminate similarities and differences among their Albanian and Macedonian peers (finding, naturally, that they have more in common than they realized).
Underlying this work is Jankulovski's belief that young people can use communication technology to build their own opinions and creativity while becoming more productive citizens. It's wrong, he writes, "to sit and simply allow irrational things to happen in front of us without saying anything about it, and the way to peace and understanding," he adds, "begins with youth."
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