Learning about technology and ourselves with the Meet the Ancestors project
Every educator knows that technology is a crucial part of developing 21st-century skills. But teaching technology can at times be dry and uncreative. One of the most effective ways we’ve found to ignite student interest in this subject, is to use technology as a means of bringing immersive, collaborative projects to life.
One subject that we wanted our students exposed to was the changing demographics across society. Given the ongoing political and societal shifts we’ve seen around the world in recent years, we were keen to give our students perspective on these issues, while encouraging them to think more deeply about their own communities and personal histories.
We launched “Meet the Ancestors,” a project designed to address prejudice and racism by having children learn more themselves, their school, and their country. DNA testing was a key component to the project and Living DNA donated kits to the cause. Erasmus+, the EU programme which helps people to study, train, and volunteer abroad, assisted in connecting Rayleigh Primary to primary schools in France, Malta, Poland, and Croatia. In each school, the students would study their own ancestors and migration patterns, with the results shared amongst the participating schools.
With partners lined up, and teachers enthusiastic about the project, the next challenge was to host all the content from the partner schools in five countries in one centralised place. Since Rayleigh Primary was already using G Suite for Education; Mark Allen, an education technology consultant and founder of “EdintheClouds”, stepped in to guide teachers in adapting G Suite to the Meet the Ancestors curriculum. He helped teachers at all five schools create Google Sites that would house the students’ work and become a public resource for others interested in the results.The cloud-based tools would make it possible to collaborate across schools and work on the project from any connected device, anywhere in the world.
To coordinate a project of this scale and across five countries was no easy undertaking. Having the functionalities of G Suite, and in particular Google Translate, made this cross collaboration possible. By showing how technology can transcend working boundaries and connect people closer than ever before, no matter where they’re located was a nice homage to the project’s theme!
We know that everybody has a story to tell and we have already seen this project impact our students. They’ve come away from it with not just improved technology skills, but also with a deeper understanding of their own heritage and how we’re not just citizens of one country—we’re all citizens of the world.