Project Announcement:

The Awards Ceremony took place Wednesday May 14, 8am EST (12 midday GMT) Congratulations to all students and teachers. Thank you to all Judges!

What is the Flat Classroom® Project all About?


Students and teachers are researchers on this project. We will study the flatteners in the world as outlined in Thomas Friedman's book 'The World is Flat' We will research emerging trends and technologies that continue to flatten the world and share that research via this collaboratively authored wiki.


The students manage this project ourselves and the teachers coach and encourage. They are uniquely positioned to understand their own generation and will write something that is concise, easy to read, and helpful for everyone to understand the facts and observations.

Compelling Story Tellers

Students become movie producers and project what they think our future will look like using digital stories. They are creative with our videos as they show us how they think the world looks now and will look when flatteners combine with the unique characteristics of the digital generation.

Project Outline

This project has two parts: a collaborative group wiki and a video.

Part A - Wiki Editing

  • Students will be grouped in mixed classroom teams and will work on one of the 11 topics detailed below
  • Students will add content, edit, update, and improve the wiki pages based on their research


Part B - Video Artifact

  • Students will create digital stories in their assigned area.
  • Students will include at least a part of their video, coming from a student in another classroom (outsourcing) following standard video specifications


Types of Videos

There are six possible types of videos as detailed below. Depending on the size of the current project students will be put in the team grid with up to six columns representing each of these groups. The influence for this mashup of video ideas with the flatteners from Friedman comes from Dan Pinks's 'A Whole New Mind'


  • Group A Video - The Story (Group A)- These videos explain the topic. They may be distinct or a multi-part series, but must explain the topic at hand, including the latest research and findings from the wiki.
  • Group B Video -Innovation, Invention, and Prediction (Group B)- These videos should include an innovation, invention, or prediction based upon the trend that is shown. Some questions that may be covered: where will this trend take us? How do you envision the future? Do you think this trend will be replaced with another? What inventions are needed because of this trend?
  • Group C Video - Social Entrepreneurship (Group C) - A social entrepreneur is defined as: "someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change." [1] In these videos you will select the social cause of your choice, and using the information learned about your trend create a video about how the trend you analyzed can be used to spark change in that area. If you find current organizations involved that you wish to share as part of your video, please discuss this with your teacher before writing it into your script.
  • Group D Video - First Person Narrative (Empathy) (Group D) - In this video, you will tell a story of a person involved in the trend.
  • Group E Video - Group Stories (Symphony) (Group E) - In this video, you will tell a story of a group or groups of people as they are impacted by this trend.
  • Group F Video - How we Live (Play) - In this video, you will show how " is becoming an important part of work, business and personal well-being, it's importance manifesting itself in three ways: games, humor and joyfulness." pg 188 Pink

Collaboration on Videos

Outsourced Clip

Every video should have a portion that is outsourced from another school. All information about the video part of this project is on the All about the video wiki.

Creating a Video Series

This is new: Students in the past have wanted to make a series of videos and collaborate with partners to have a consistent theme. This is a great idea and you may do this as you choose but it is optional.
  • A series - A group of at least two videos meant to be viewed in sequential order that go together. A series of videos may be judged as one unit in the video competition at the discretion of the judges.
  • Unless you tell us, we will assume your video is NOT part of a series. A series does, however, require greater collaboration and will be judged as such.

Project Matrix

Below are links to the project pages and a brief outline for the students of the trend they are analyzing.
View the final TEAM GRID of students for this project


Topics for 'The World Is Flat' Collaborative Project

Note: Page references are from the newly revised and expanded edition of 'The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century' by Thomas Friedman (3rd edition 2007). The Flat Classroom Project is featured in the new chapter called 'If it's not happening its because you're not doing it', pages 501-503. Further reading: The World is Flat from Wikipedia and The World is Flat Summary from Wikisummaries

Group 1 and 2: The New Age of Connectivity

Flattener #2, p 60-77
The second flattener is identified as our ability to not only author our own content, but to send it worldwide with the 1995 launch of the Internet. Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by 'early adopters and geeks' to something that made the Internet accessible to everyone from five-year-olds to eighty-five-year olds. (8/9/1995)
Overview of topic
  • Development of the Internet: low-cost global connectivity
  • The emergence of the World Wide Web: Individuals able to post content for world viewing
  • Spread of the commercial Web browser: Netscape and others, able to display WWW content on any computer, development of protocols enabling devices to talk to one another
Ideas related to this topic
  • Global Perspective on Internet connectivity
  • Digital divide issues
  • Standards and policies for use of the Internet and the WWW: comparing differences between countries
  • Development of eCommerce, dot-com boom and bust
  • Development of social interaction and communication between individuals via the Internet
Group 1 Topic: ' Connecting the World Online'
  • Provide a perspective from your country on Internet connectivity: development, access methods and statistics
  • Conduct a digital divide comparison and discussion based on country and regional news and issues (Are there digital divides between countries, within the countries themselves? What is the impact of limited Internet availability on education and industry?)
Group 2 Topic: ' How the World Wide Web has Changed the World'
  • Discuss the development of the WWW (Netscape etc) and associated protocols
  • Provide a perspective from your country on WWW standards and issues
  • Conduct a discussion about the use of the WWW in education and business (local and global perspectives)

Group 3: Work Flow Software

Flattener #3, p 77-93
Free workflow software was developed, allowing people from around the world to collaborate and work together on projects using a shared medium. The ability of machines to talk to other machines with no humans involved.
Overview of topic
  • Being able to create and manipulate digital content (words, data, pictures) from the desktop
  • Through online connectivity being able to share and distribute this content: machines talking to machines
  • For work to flow seamlessly: connections between different platforms, transmission protocols and languages e.g SMTP, HTTP, HTML, TCP/IP
  • Interoperability between departments necessitating software and hardware development
  • Standardization of business and other practices: PayPal, JPEG
  • New coding called AJAX: allows for online productivity (what you would normally do on a PC eg WP, can be done over the Internet)
Group 3 Topic: 'How Work Flow Software can Enhance Productivity and Communication'
  • It has become more important to standardize software and devise platform compatibility in order to be able to work more efficiently between programs and between users: Discuss a perspective on this in relation to business and education
  • Provide current scenarios and examples of work flow software to support your comparative discussion eg how does a Mac OS PC 'talk' to a PC running WinXP? What are the most common applications that promote interoperability: packages and Web 2.0
  • How does the concept and practice of work flow software enhance/improve productivity and communication: give specific examples
  • How must education change to instruct students in collaboration? How must industry change how they train their workforce? How cultural and geographic (time zone) issues impact collaboration?

Group 4 and 5: Uploading

(Harnessing the Power of Communities)
Flattener #4, p 93-126
Communities uploading and collaborating on online projects. Examples include open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia.
Overview of topic
  • More people authoring more content and collaborating on that content; more people uploading files and globalizing that content
  • Power to individuals and self-forming communities to send up and out their own products and ideas-often for free
  • "Uploading is....becoming one of the most revolutionary forms of collaboration in the flat world" pg 95
  • Ordinary people can now be producers as well as consumers
  • Three forms of uploading:
    • community developed software
    • Wikipedia
    • blogging/podcasting
Ideas related to this topic
  • Students as producers as well as consumers of content
  • Enhanced communication now possible between individuals and groups
  • The impact of using uploading tools on everyday activities in education and business
  • Authenticity, privacy, security, globalization and cultural awareness issues
Group 4 Topic: 'The Changing Shape of Information'
  • Provide an historical account of the availability of information. Refer to developments in participating countries and make global comparisons
  • Discuss the impact of the Internet and how uploading has changed the way we find, use and transfer information
  • Provide specific current examples related to business and education of consumers also being producers of content that is "uploaded."
Group 5 Topic: 'Why we should be promoting Web 2.0 Tools for Sharing Information'
  • Provide an outline of essential Web 2.0 tools (Blogs, podcasts, wikis) and discuss developments and trends in the participating countries
  • Discuss essential social and ethical issues to do with using Web 2.0 tools in both education and business.
  • Provide current scenarios and examples of using Web 2.0 as an effective collaboration and communication tool

Group 6: Outsourcing

Flattener #5, p 126-136
Outsourcing has allowed companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components, with each component performed in most efficient, cost-effective way.
Overview of topic
  • Definition of outsourcing: Taking a specific, but limited, function that was being done in-house (research, call centers, accounts receivable etc) and having another company perform the exact function then reintegrating their work back into the overall operation
  • Drawing on 'brain power' from India, setting up companies outside of the USA/west
  • Using fibre optic cable and Internet to communicate with home bases
  • A global perspective on types of businesses outsourced to South Asia
  • The Y2K story: India benefited from supplying workers for menial programming tasks
  • Call center development
Group 6 Topic: 'Globalization and Outsourcing'
The terms "outsourcing", "offshoring", or “nearshoring” are often used to refer to the movement of jobs from regions with high labor costs, such as the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan, to countries with relatively low labor costs, such as India, China, and the Philippines. Already commonplace in the manufacturing sector, outsourcing has recently spread to the service and high-tech industries, affecting workers who are traditionally among the most highly-paid and highly-skilled in their home countries. In fact, U.S. market research firm Forrester Research, predicts that by 2015, 3.3 million U.S. service jobs, totalling $136 billion in wages, will move offshore, fuelled by advances in digitization, the Internet, and high-speed networks.
  • Discuss ways technology has changed the way people do business with each other and give specific examples from around the world
  • Provide evidence of how the development of outsourcing has changed job opportunities and created new areas of expertise and opportunity in both areas. Discuss this in relation to both sides of the world (eg offshore tutoring)
  • Discuss what job skills are necessary for the 21st Century and how this impacts on plans and trends in education for your country and the rest of the world

Group 7 and 8: In-forming

(Google, Yahoo!, MSN Web Search)
Flattener #9, p 176-185
Google and other search engines are the prime example. "Never before in the history of the planet have so many people-on their own-had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people", writes Friedman.
Overview of topic
  • Google: a great flattener
  • Searching, information, knowledge
  • How does searching fit into the concept of collaboration? (Friedman calls it In-forming)
  • In-forming: The ability to build and deploy your own personal supply chain - a supply chain of information, knowledge and entertainment, without having to go to the library or the movie theatre or through network TV. It is searching for knowledge It is about seeking like-minded people and communities
Ideas related to this topic
  • Personal and Professional Learning Environments (PLE, VLE)
  • Search engines: comparative study
  • Social networking and Web 2.0
  • Information has become a business: eg Google
Group 7 Topic: ' Google Takes Over the World'
  • Explore and discuss the development and impact of Google and other search engines on the concept of In-forming
  • Compare global perspectives on using a search engine such as Google: developments and trends
  • Provide current scenarios and examples of the impact of Google on education
  • Discuss the business aspect of Google as an example of the impact of Internet connectivity and the potential for business development and possible monopolization
Group 8 Topic: ' Personal Learning Environments and Social Networking '
  • Provide an historical account of the development of social networking and PLE's
  • Discuss the approaches taken locally and globally to the use of social networking tools for education
  • Provide current examples of how business and education use Web 2.0 tools to connect and deliver/find information

Group 9, 10, 11: The Steroids

(Digital, Mobile, Personal and Virtual)
Flattener #10, p 185-199
Personal digital devices like mobile phones, iPods, personal digital assistants, instant messaging, and voice over IP
  • Emerging and new technologies
  • Digitized content (connections, protocols and standards)
  • Mobile: anywhere, any time, through a variety of devices (wireless connectivity)
  • Personal: By the individual, for the individual, on their own device
  • What does the flat world look like taking into account all of these new forms of collaboration?
  • The first steroid: Computing power
  • The second steroid: Breakthroughs in instant messaging, peer-to-peer networks
  • The third steroid: Breakthroughs in making phone calls over the Internet (VOIP)
  • The fourth steroid: Videoconferencing
  • The fifth steroid: Advances in computer graphics
  • The sixth steroid: Wireless technologies and devices
Group 9 Topic: ' Mobile and Ubiquitous'
  • Explore and discuss the development of mobile and ubiquitous computing from a global perspective, giving specific examples from personal use and from other areas of the world
  • Provide evidence of how mobile and ubiquitous computing has impacted on education and business
  • Provide current examples of the emerging new tools (devices and methods of connectivity) that we should all be taking notice of now
Group 10 Topic: 'Virtual Communication'
  • Explore and discuss the use of online and virtual communication tools such as VOIP, peer-to-peer networks and video-conferencing
  • Find current evidence of how these being used in education and business in your respective countries
  • Discuss social and ethical issues to do with the digital divide, security and privacy with the use of virtual communication in each country
Group 11 Topic: 'Wireless Connectivity'
  • Outline the development of wireless connectivity for your countries (Internet and mobile devices)
  • Explore and discuss how mobile and ubiquitous computing has impacted on education and business
  • Provide examples of current use and trends in this area

  1. ^ "Social Entrepreneurship." Wikipedia. 30 Sep 2008. Wikipedia. 30 Sep 2008 <>.