Case study: Beijing BISS International School

by Kine Nordstokka on Thu, 2010-12-02 12:01
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Name: Beijing BISS International School
Location: Beijing, China
Date Founded: 1994
Mission: Educate and empower students to attain personal excellence and positively impact the world


Beijing BISS International School (BISS) was founded in 1994 by its sister school, the International School Singapore (ISS). Over 330 students from 40 different countries attend the School. BISS faculty members hail from the USA, Canada, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, China, the Philippines, Portugal, and the U.K,

The Innovation

Students at BISS use ICT in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are willing and able to use technology’s power to assist in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information. Pupils at BISS get the tools and the support to connect, communicate and collaborate across the world.

BISS believes that technology skills and digital literacy should be fully integrated into all curriculum areas and teaching. During the elementary school years, students develop appropriate technology skills that they can utilise in every subject. Technology will be used as a tool in all areas of learning and a BISS student will become fluent in the use of technology to further their learning and have the appropriate skills to do this. All teachers and students at BISS are expected to use digital technology, including desktop computers, laptops and handheld devices, school network facilities and associated online tools in an ethical, culturally sensitive and appropriate manner for an educational community.

The school context gives validity to the use of ICTs. It changes the perception that it should only be used for fun or entertainment, and show that it also can be used for educational and professional networking. The young people that are learning about ICTs in schools will be the next generation of leaders because they learned how to be excellent digital citizens. A digital citizen is someone who knows how to be responsible online, knows how to treat others online and connects with people across cultures and places to find out how other people live their lives, gaining a greater understanding of what it means to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Key Ingredients

Julie Lindsay, the e-Learning Coordinator at BISS, was the co creator of the Flat Classroom project. The Flat Classroom is a global collaborative project that connects young people around the world. It uses new ICT which enables pupils to work together with other young people across the globe on various projects. It also levels out the relationship between teachers and students because the students are encouraged to teach their teacher about new ICT. The aims of the project is to help young people to become globally minded and to equip them with new skills in an increasingly ICT dominated world.

The latest flat classroom project is in 8-10 classrooms from around the world. Participating countries include USA, India, China, Qatar and Pakistan. The students worked in cross-country teams and created pitches using a wide range of ICTS and presented it to judges. They then had a global vote to find the winning project that would be taken up by the flat classroom project. The winning team’s project was eracism—erase racism, which will be a global debate using Ning, wiki and voice reading from students talking about the issue.

Face to face meetings are still very important so the Flat Classroom project also include conferences getting young people together to look at projects based on topics like the digital divide and other problems using ICTs. These conferences also have virtual participants.

Recommendations and lessons from practice

Julie Lindsay recommends that schools stop blocking websites and social media sites which can be useful in an educational context. Websites such as Ning, Skype, Twitter and YouTube are often blocked even though they can be very useful in the classroom. Teachers are often making decisions about objectionable material rather than teaching students to be better digital citizens. Globally, teachers are still putting the lids down, thinking the internet is only good for using Google for searching the web. The internet should, however, be about enabling communication, collaboration and creation. Young people in the 21st century need to know how to access YouTube, upload podcasts, embed it in their blogs and create an appropriate avatar that they can share globally. They need to be instructed on how to use the web not just for fun, but for professional and educational development as well.


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