The overall objective of the project is to use ICTs to: connect local and international learners and teachers, developing educational content, promote cross cultural understanding, and raise ICT literacy and awareness in schools. The objectives specific to GTPZ are:
- developing ICT skills for students and teachers across Zambia;
- enhancing the public profile of GTP Zambia, including creating a website as well as soliciting press coverage in order to create further opportunities to expand the GTP to more schools, especially outside of Lusaka; and
- overcoming connectivity and technical challenges by developing facilities to provide greater technical support to schools.
In Zambia, the project has included building the skills of the 11 of the 25 participating schools. A 4-day Head Teachers workshop was organised in ICT skills followed by a 2-day teacher workshop in the new features of GTP (wiki's and the GTP website). In addition, two radio shows were broadcast to raise awareness about GTP in Zambia, and a DVD was developed to showcase the GTP project and to orient new students and teachers.
The main strategy behind the Global Teenager project is the "Learning Circle" concept, developed by American educator Margaret Riel. In brief, Learning Circles are web-based, virtual environments for intercultural exchange and learning. The Learning Circle set-up works as follows: Twice a year, under the guidance of facilitators and "country coordinators", groups of 8-10 classes from different schools all over the world link up via email or the internet to form a Learning Circle. All communication is visible on the Virtual Campus website. The teacher plays a key role in the process. The classes select a theme from a shortlist of topics ranging from health, environment, human rights, globalisation, and "my life". For the next 10 weeks, the secondary school pupils in each Learning Circle email each other on that one topic, using a structured 6-phase method:
- Phase 1: Teachers prepare their pupils to take part in the Learning Circles and learn how to manage incoming email.
- Phase 2 (weeks 1-2): Students say "hello" to other Learning Circle schools using an open "Class Letter" introducing themselves and their school.
- Phase 3 (week 3): Students sponsor a question for the Learning Circle.
- Phase 4 (weeks 4-6): Students answer the sponsored questions posed in the Learning Circle.
- Phase 5 (weeks 7-9): Students reflect upon their thoughts, summarise, and send their final report.
- Phase 6 (week 10): Students say "goodbye" to each other; the Learning Circle is formally closed.
All discussions are conducted in English, but organisers are in the process of developing French and Spanish Learning Circles. The content of the Circles is formed by the participants themselves and as such reflect local contexts. Schools can experiment with different approaches to both learning and teaching, sharing their findings with other schools.