Desert and Desertification Project

This document was last updated on 31-May-1996

              THIS IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF A PROJECT:
       "D E S E R T    A N D    D E S E R T I F I C A T I O N  - 1996-1997"
A. Background:
   About 36% of the total area of the globe is covered with Deserts. Most
   of this area is in the third world. Geographers distinguish between
   "warm deserts" and "cold deserts". To anyone who is not a geographer,
   a desert is "No Man's Land", because they fail to understand how
   people can live in the hard conditions that are so typical to desert
   areas . To the people that live in the desert - a desert means a way
   of living. In many places in the world, scientists are doing a lot of
   research to find out ways that will enable people to make use of the
   deserts for living, production of food and energy. Because desert
   areas are sparsely populated and are only little developed at
   present, we believe that they will have a different place in our
   world in the future. Therfore, it is important to teach people about
   the desert and about the possibilities for further development of
   deserts.
   We invite Netters, teachers, students and researchers, to join us in
   an adventure of learning about "Desert and Desertification". This is
   a year long (September 1996 to May 1997) project, that has 4 Stages.
   The structure of this project will enable students (as well as
   classes) to join this project at any stage according to their
   timetable. In this project we will understand the ways people lived
   in the desert in the past (as nomads, different cultures developed
   around the oasis) and the role the desert will play in the future.
   This year, the project will be a bi-lingual project - it will operate
   both in Hebrew and English. Participants will be able to use the
   language that suits them best.
   The project will be moderated by Hannah Sivan, the Educational
   Coordinator of the Ramat-Negev Freenet and a teacher in teh High
   School for Environmental Studies.
B. Educational Goals:
   1. Creating a Global and technological learning environment.
   2. Creating a study environment that is not dependent upon age, area,
      time.
   3. Creating a study environment in which students, and teachers will
      learn from each other.
   4. Developing an independent student, who will able to present
      questions, look for answers and prepare a report about his/her study.
   5. The student will experience distance learning, peer learning and
      learning from experts.
   6. The students will be involved and responsible in the process of
      learning.
   7. Developing the ability of a student to make a transfer from the
      reality he lives in to a different reality, of another environment.
   8. The students will learn skills: Computer communication; Searching for
      sources in libraries and in computerized data bases; Learning from
      experts.
   9. The students will learn to present questions to scientists and
      produce reports of their study.
  10. Creating an Interdisciplinary subject, in which the student will
      develop his ability to transfer knowledge from various
      subject-matters.
  11. The students will study in meaningful working groups - according
      to their interest as well as relevant (to the student) subjects.
C. Structure of the project and timetable:
   This project has 4 stages:
   Stage I:
       * Main subjects: Introduction of students, Classes and area of
         living, collection of data, learning to use the INTERNET for
         sources and e-mail.
   Stage II:
       * Main subjects: The perception of the desert, The desert in
         literature, history and cultures, Names of the desert and of
         phenomena in the desert.
   Stage III:
       * Main subjects: What is a desert? What is in a desert? The
         effect of man on the desert (development and/or
         desertification).
   Stage IV:
       * Main subject: The Desert in the Future and the Future of the
         Desert.
   You will find a more detailed desctiption of the stages of this
   project at the end of this paper.
D. Notes for the teachers:
   1. This is not a usual program nor is it a usual curriculum.
      This is a framework that you, the teacher, will have to fill with
      relevant subjects or with relevant working parcels.
      By "relevant" we mean here relevance to the student (who made a
      choice of a subject), to the teacher, to the curriculum or to your
      environment.
   2. You do not have to live in a desert (whether it is a hot or a
      cold desert) in order to take part in it. We welcome participants
      as well as contributions from any one who is living in any part
      of the world.
   3. Participation in this project is not limited to those who
      participate in the whole project. Everyone is welcome to choose to
      participate in any part (or more than one part) of the project.
      That will enable classes from all over the world (also classes
      from the southern hemisphere) to join this project.
   4. There will be a possibility for teachers and students, to create
      "Ad-Hoc" classes, to study various subjects. Students and teachers,
      from different groups or countries, who are interested in studying a
      certain subject - may create a class and invite a teacher (it is
      possible to call an expert of this subject).
   5. Will make contacts with experts fron academic institutes that will
      be willing to be in touch with participants of this project,
      students as well as teachers. We will make a list of the people
      that agreed to help us, their fields of interest and their
      addresses.
F. The process of study:
   This Project is not a curriculum in the usual sense of the word as known
   by teachers and students. The teacher and the student will find here a
   "framework" that will have to be filled up. It is up to each teacher and
   student to decide what materials will be used in the process of the
   study. We would like to emphasize here our belief that the process of
   teaching and studying has to be relevant. And therefore it is up to you,
   teachers and students, to choose the subjects to study, the method and
   the resources within the given framework and timetable.
   We expect that each group will write a report that will describe the
   subjects that they will study or any other thing that may interest the
   other participants. By the end of each stage, the Israeli group, as a
   part of the study and responsiblities, will write a final report,
   based on the contributions that were made during the study process.
   Each stage will be scheduled for a 4-6 week period. This will allow
   time for discussions in the classroom, library work, data collecting,
   E-Mail communications and writing of reports.
   We would like to emphasize that we would like to create a
   multi-directional "dialogue" between the participants (students,
   teachers, experts and guests). Students from any group may present
   questions to others or create questionaires to be answered by others.
   It is requested that the data as well as the conclusions of the study
   be sent to all in a way that will make this data avaliable to all.
   Before the beginning of each stage we will send guidelines/tips/hints
   and advice for teachers. These will be only in the shape of general
   thoughts - and will have to be adapted to each learning environment,
   according to the available learning materials.
   We hope that teachers will share their experience with us.
   We may establish a teacher's meeting on the IRC for exchange of
   ideas and mutual help.
   Students are invited to contribute pictures (as .gif files), desert
   sounds (as sound files) and suggest a logo (that can be used in
   electronic communication) for this project.
   We are planning to use various means of modern communication
   technology: E-mail, IRC (online conferencing), use of Gopher and Data
   bases, multi-media, video, picture and sound files, etc.
   Some examples:
   1. One may decide to study the desert in the "Little Prince" by A. du
      St. Exsupery.
   2. A team from a jewish school may like to study the role of the
      desert in the creation of the Jewish Nation.
   3. A geography teacher may like to study many deserts of the
      world: Make a map of the deserts of the world, collect data, create
      a data-base and compare the environmental conditions.
   4. A Biology teacher may like to study with his students about
      adaptation of plants and animals to desert conditions.
   5. Social Studies teachers may like to study about cultures of
      nomads that live in deserts, the similarities and differences
      between the different groups and about the changes that happen to
      these people.
   6. A computer teacher may like to emphasize the different computer
      applications, and teach his students about data bases and
      spreadsheets, about creating different types of files (picture,
      sound, video) and teach his students how to store and retrieve
      information on gophers.
   We are aware of the limitations of our imagination. There is no end
   to the possibilities!
   We are sure that we can learn much from each of the participants.
   You may get some more ideas by browsing the Desert and Desertification
   pages at  http://ramat-negev.org.il/edu/env/desert/ 
H. Organization:
   This Project will be lead by Hannah Sivan and other teachers and
   Students of the 10th grade from the High School for Environmental
   Studies in Midreshet Ben Gurion, The Negev, Israel.
   The High School for Environmental Studies is working together with
   scientists from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev and from the
   Desert resarch institute, located in Midreshet Ben Gurion.
I. Detailed description of the Stages of this project:
   Stage I:
   Subjects: - Who am I? a student introducing himself
             - Who are we? introduction from the group / the class / the
               school.
             - Where do we live? the group will find and send geographic
               information about the area they live in. Students are
               invited to add other personal information. Groups that
               live in deserts will send more detailed information.
   Work Packages, (WPs), for example:
             - Make new connections with students from different parts
               of the world.
             - Learn the computer communication system and the ways to
               operate it.
             - Learn, from first hand, geographical information about
               different parts of the world.
             - Use the atlas to locate sites and places.
             - Learn to collect data and information and make a
               data-base.
             - Collect pictures, select representative pictures and
               send pictures as .gif files.
             - Collect sounds, make files out of them and send them.
             - Learn about different types of deserts.
             - Desert experience (one day or one night in the desert)
             - Watching movies (The Namibian Desert, Gods must be
               Crazy...)
   Stage II:
   Subjects: - What do people think about deserts?
             - What is the perception of the desert in different
               cultures?
             - The meaning of the desert in literature, culture,
               history.
   Work Packages, (WPs), for example:
             - Stereotypes and Prejudices.
             - study of Cultures
             - Compiling a questionnaire for research in social studies.
             - making a small research in Social studies.
             - Work with data-bases in the library and via
               computer-communication.
             - writing a summary of biliographic material.
             - preparing a research report.
             - Work / learn from experts (present questions, plan and
               carry out an interview).
             - Making a new data-base (of words, images, sounds)
   Stage III:
   Subjects: - What is a Desert?
             - What is in a Desert?
             - Compile a Definition for Desert.
             - Learn and understand the map of the deserts of the world.
             - Man's influence on Deserts (in the Past, at Present and
               in the Future).
             - Formulate a question of research to present to
               a scientist and carry out the research needed in order to
               get an answer to this question.
   Work Packages, (WPs), for example:
             - Collect Data and Information.
             - Create Data-Base.
             - Work with experts
             - Prepare Definition for team.
             - the process of Desertification.
   Stage IV: The Desert in the Future and the Future of the Desert.
   Subjects: - Learning about the Modern Research about deserts.
             - Learning how to use historical information in modern
               research.
             - Understanding the possible role of the desert in the
               future.
             - Understanding that unproper use of the desert at the
               present will influence the future.
             - Understanding the process of planning.
             - Understanding the necessity of planning and conservation
               in using natural resources.
             - Understanding that the meaning of deserts is Global and
               not Local.
   Work Packges, (WPs), for example:
             - Learning the potential of the desert
             - Learning from experts
             - participating in scientific research.
             - preparing a detailed plan for one of the desert areas
               of the world.
             - Simulations and role-play in discussion of a case study
               and in Regional Planning.
             - Making a plan for Restoration of a Desert area.
             - Desert in Science Fiction literature (Dune by F. Herbert)
             - Visiting a desert research institute and learning about
               the modern research that is done in the deserts and about
               the deserts.
   If you are interested in joining the project, or any part of the it, you
   are kindly requested to register, by sending us the registration form
   which is found below, or which can be sent to you in separate
   mail. The registration form can also be found on the Desert Home page -
   URL:
    http://ramat-negev.org.il/edu/env/desert/regdesme.htm 
J. The Desert and Desertification - 1995 and 1996.
   This project was first operated during the year 1995-96, as a project
   designed and operated together with the KIDLINK organization.
   The results of the study, as well as the Desert Navigator are
   presented on the Desert Pages URL:
    http://ramat-negev.org.il/edu/env/desert/ 
   We thank all the participants for their help and for the input of data
   and information.
   If you wish us to send you the registration form for the project, please
   contact us at:
                   education@ramat-negev.org.il 
   We will be happy to send you more information.
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    In order to keep an accurate, comprehensive list of all of the
    participants in this project, we kindly request that you take a few
    minutes to complete the following points and send us this information
    together with your confirmation of your participation in the project.
    FULL NAME .............................................................
    EMAIL ADDRESS .........................................................
    POSITION...............................................................
    CLASSES TAUGHT ........................................................
    AGES OF STUDENTS ......................................................
    FULL ADDRESS ..........................................................
    TELEPHONE .............................................................
    FAX ...................................................................
    PLANS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE PROJECT:
    TIME:..................................................................
    SUBJECT:...............................................................
    HOW DO YOU PLAN TO WORK TOGETHER WITH THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS?..........
    .......................................................................
    OTHER POINTS...........................................................
    INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION:
    CAN YOU USE IRC?.......................................................
    DO YOU HAVE LYNX?......................................................
    DO YOU HAVE A GRAPHICAL BROWSER (MOSAIC OR NETSCAPE)?..................
    ("Other Points" could include something on your own personal background
                    as well as a description of the school)