Callaghan College students gained international experience working on a project with a Philippines school, in what has been labelled a state-first use of an online learning system.
Wallsend and Waratah campus students completed the six-week collaborative task with students from De La Salle Lipa, in Lipa City, Philippines.
The cross-border project used Canvas, a cloud-based learning system by American education company, Instructure, which is used around the world.
Callaghan head teacher of teaching and learning, Stacy Lambert, said the college had used Canvas in-house for two years, but the Philippines collaboration was a first.
The project pitted groups of five students – mixed from both schools – against each other and aimed to identify the best ways to tackle plastic pollution in each location.
“Sustainability is in a lot of the NSW syllabuses and the Philippines have a very large environmental problem with single-use plastics,” she said.
“It was topical with the single-use plastic bags from Coles and Woolies being taken away. They [Infrastructure] designed a project and picked the two schools.”
A total of 36 year 9 and 10 students took on the extra-curricular activity, completed in out-of-class times.
Keely Harris, 15, said the collaboration had exposed students to different cultural priorities in problem solving.
“It’s been fun,” she said. “They [Philippines students] are really open, friendly to talk to and very willing to work with us. Because we have two different cultures working together, we get two different perspectives to solve the same problems.”
Technology head teacher David Summerville said Canvas could be used on mobile phones and it was used to “solve a real world problem”.
“This is a real example of how students in Callaghan College are using their phones in a very authentic way for communicating and collaborating,” he said.
The project comes after new data revealed high school students’ willingness to gain international exposure.
A survey commissioned by Instructure of 1200 students and parents in June, found 61 per cent of students believed international experience would improve their future job prospects, but only 29 per cent of parents would be able to afford sending their child on an exchange program.
The survey also showed a lack of international experience was a regret for 79 per cent of parents, and almost half (44 per cent) believed they would have followed a different career path if they had more exposure.
Instructure’s Troy Martin said “global exposure” was often a missing element of a school curriculum.
He said technology could provide “equity” to schools where exchange programs were not possible.
“This is a very modern construct being able to see the type of impact technology can deliver to students regardless of where they are,” he said.
“Callaghan is the first [in NSW] to undertake a project such as this. They are a true leader in NSW education in terms of how they are using the Canvas system.”
Ms Lambert added: “It’s 24/7 learning, students can use it at any time of the day and night. Parents can also observe as well”.