Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trouble in the Flatlands

A decade before Tom Friedman wrote The World is Flat, Canadian teacher Dale Hubert was connecting children around the world through his Flat Stanley Project. “I was building a social network before YouTube or MySpace,” Hubert told me recently as he reminisced about his years in a virtual place he calls "the flatlands."

Through Hubert's grassroots online project, thousands of children from more than 40 countries have made connections—to each other, to literature, and sometimes even to world leaders, astronauts, and movie stars—by exchanging their own paper versions of Stanley Lambchop, the boy squashed by a falling bulletin board in the 1964 book, Flat Stanley.

And now the popular project may be coming to a close due to legal troubles with the estate of Jeff Brown, the late author. I explain the situation in more detail in this story for Edutopia.

It’s too soon to know how the controversy will end, but Hubert is determined to find a way to continue connecting children with the wider world. Already, Flat Stanley is a popular guy on YouTube, Flickr, and countless classroom blogs. Hubert imagines incorporating more Web 2.0 tools to expand the global conversation. And he already has a back-up plan if he can’t keep the current project alive. His goal, as always in the flatlands, will be “authentic and meaningful communication.” Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I, too, used Flat Stanley for a few years as a way into a pen pal project and it was just the right tone and sense of fun.
Too bad the copyright cops are cracking down on something that is such a great way for kids to write, read and collaborate.