Using an International Videoconference in Problem-Based Inquiry Projects: The Role of Public Voice, Audience, and Positionality, pp. 12 of 14

Using Public Voice to Demonstrate Understanding

The Utah students demonstrated the knowledge they had gained from their inquiry project during the videoconference. They problematized their Macedonian peers understanding of marriage equality, and the unconscious ways they were silencing the issue in Macedonia. The Utah students were able to explain silence to the Macedonian students, and demonstrated the relevancy of their project. They also illustrated the silence on the issue, by citing the fact that there were neither same-sex marriages, nor laws prohibiting same-sex marriages in Macedonia. It was difficult for the Macedonian students to understand, especially because they repeatedly said that they “support LGBTQ rights” (VT, p. 26). After some discussion, Carl asked “how do you support LGBTQ people, or your friends that are LGBTQ?” (VT, p.  28). Several Macedonian students spoke, and said that they don’t know any LGBTQ people, but they would support them in various ways if they did know them. Maria said, “well that is still silence, I think, but not your fault” (VT, p. 28). The Macedonians were visibly concerned, and pushed back a bit against Maria’s comment and asked, “How do you know gay people are supported in your school and community” (VT, p. 29). At this point Carl stood up, and said, “Well, I am gay, and I feel supported because my classmates chose to do this project with me, and in other ways too!” (VT, p. 30). At that moment, two of Carl’s classmates stood up and said, “We support him!” (VT, p. 30), and then, the rest of the students stood up and some vocalized support for Carl. It was a very moving moment for all in attendance, and included big smiles and clapping from the Macedonian students.

When the Utah students stood up for their classmate, it was a symbolic show of support that demonstrated the Utah students’ own reflective realization about their own silence. The videoconference allowed Utah students the space to not only identify the silence on an issue in another country, but also reflect on their own silence and take actions to demonstrate their new self-awareness on the issue. At no point were the Utah students condemning the perspective or silence of the Macedonian students, however, they saw similarities to their own silence on the issue and wanted to demonstrate their new sense of awareness on the issue. Their new awareness and empowerment on the issue enabled the Utah students to demonstrate their new knowledge and understanding. They saw the videoconference as a way to begin implementing their action plan, but started by educating global perspectives instead of local perspectives. John was able to describe the value of sharing their action plan with the global audience, before a local audience, in his videoconference reflection:

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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