Virtual Peer Projects
Peer Projects Online: the Enki Virtual Junior High School
In the Enki approach, we make a significant shift in program structure to meet the budding social needs of children at this age. One of the biggest shifts is that we carve out an entire month of each term for the students to work together on peer projects. These projects give the students a chance to work as peers to choose, design, and execute projects based on the cultural studies they have just undertaken. The all important learning in this work is that of learning to work as constructive and responsible members of a team – responsible, first and foremost, to one another.
It is quite clear how this could serve the students in a group setting, but one question hounded us as we made the decision to take these courses online for homeschoolers: could peer projects really happen in cyber space? To answer that for yourselves, I encourage you to take some time to tour the results of our first 4 Humanities Units (Grammar, Math and Science include much art work, but they do not have the peer project component shown here). As you will see, there is enormous variety in what the students created. These represent a lot of team decision making, research, creative writing, art work, layout, AND video and audio work.
In each case, the students planned and reviewed their ideas and their work together. They did this live, but online. Then each student executed his or her own piece separately. Next came the blessing and challenge of modern technology: bringing it all together. Sometimes this meant combining stills of drawings or photos with video and voice over to make a film. Other times it meant combining different presentations and demonstrations into a coherent whole. And for some it meant taking singing and instrument playing recorded separately, and then combining all those into one coherent song, which then went to the video worker to become a music video! Lots of use of modern skills to bring the engagement with cultural history ever deeper, and to bring it to all of us. The collaboration was fabulous, and it was wonderful to see how much of the technology the children were able to research and master – judge their skills for yourself!
In all honesty, the children have been able to tackle this with more mutual respect and support, cooperation, tenacity, AND creativity and skill than we had ever imagined, let alone thought possible. Have a look!