Using an International Videoconference in Problem-Based Inquiry Projects: The Role of Public Voice, Audience, and Positionality

Abstract

This article discusses and reflects upon a problem-based inquiry project that culminated in an international videoconference between multiethnic and multi-faith secondary students from Macedonia and the United States. The videoconference provided an opportunity for students to share their action plans, which proposed methods of addressing local problems or issues students had identified through their inquiry. This article focuses on three ways students engaged with the project and videoconference: inquiry, audience, and public voice. These aspects of the project illustrate how the students’ positionality on their chosen problem/issue shifted as they developed skills and knowledge through their inquiry. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for future problem-based inquiry projects in secondary schools.

Introduction

Many educators and schools are concerned with preparing students for civic engagement in their communities (Bischoff, 2016). Digital media and technology have only increased opportunities for schools to enhance their students’ civic engagement locally, nationally, and globally (Levine, 2008). In this article, I will discuss and reflect upon a project that aimed to civically engage high school students both locally and globally by addressing local issues. My discussion will focus on an international videoconference between multiethnic and multi-faith students from The Republic of Macedonia and the state of Utah, in the United States (U.S.). The videoconference served as the culminating event for semester-long, problem-based inquiry projects that were developed by students in both countries. The videoconference provided an opportunity for students to share action plans they created to address the local problems identified through their inquiry. The problem-based inquiry projects allowed students to examine their positionality and develop public voice related to local issues, while the videoconference provided an audience (Levine, 2008) for the students to engage their positionality and public voice, receive comparative perspectives, and corroborate new knowledge gained from their projects.

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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