10 ways to create global connections…

Use your imagination….

Picture two boys on opposite sides of the world playing chess in a foreign language. Imagine kids in Australia asking kids in Thailand about conditions where they live. Visualise 5 year olds in different countries singing for each other. Suppose kids in a privileged school could find out from kids in an Indian slum what not having ready access to water feels like. These are some of the global interactions that have taken place at my school in the past year. I’m dreaming of bigger things…

I know there are teachers and classes who have been connecting and collaborating successfully for longer than I have. I was inspired by them. I still am. This post is to encourage those who haven’t taken that first step…

1. Think small.

Connect with a teacher you know (me for instance!). Exchange ideas. Start simply, by having your students exchange emails.

2. Be inspired.

Read about great global collaborations other teachers have made. For inspiration read posts by Kath McGeadySylvia Tolisano and even some of mine.

3. Connect asynchronously.

Set up a Voicethread and have students ask questions. Share the link with others around the world. Encourage participation from everywhere. Create a conversation.

4. Sign up to Skype.

Make a start by having your class talk to someone. Practice with the class next door. Ask a contact in another place to Skype with your kids. One thing leads to another.

5. Make friends with your tech support people.

Ask for support. Show appreciation. Tell them what it’s for. They’ll probably be interested and more inclined to help.

6. Make it relevant.

Don’t just communicate for the sake of it (although that could be a starting point.) Find someone to collaborate with on a topic that’s relevant to the learning in your class. You can try sites like epals, but we’ve had our greatest successes via people we know from Twitter and blogs. Check out Yoon’s post about our recent connection.

7. Let kids own it.

They can make connections too. They can plan interactions. They can think about who to talk to and what to ask. Listen  to their reflections.

8. Consider the benefits.

Think about the difference between learning in the classroom and learning directly from and with people around the globe.

9. Don’t be put off by obstacles.

Ask for help. Accept there will be times when it doesn’t work. Have a plan B for when technology fails. Be patient. Be persistent. Don’t give up.

10. Think big.

There is a whole world out there and learning doesn’t have to be confined to the classroom.  Invite people or classrooms around the world to collaborate with you on a global project.


11 thoughts on “10 ways to create global connections…

  1. Hi Edna,

    Perfect advice! Thanks for the mention too. 🙂

    It’s so true that some of the best connections come from meeting people through Twitter and blogs rather than through structured sites. A few years ago, I participated in some iEARN projects and they were a good starting point but my students and I didn’t get as much out of them as some other projects we set up.

    I’ve got a big goal to participate in some more meaningful global projects this year and I want to get the kids involved in the planning more too. I would love to be able to scrap some other things we have to do at school and focus more on global projects!



  2. Thank you for sharing this post.

    So where can a teacher and their students begin to connect and collaborate with others?

    I would like to suggest iEARN, the International Education and Resource Network, see http://www.iearn.org

    iEARN is a non-profit organization made up of over 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 130 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. Over 2,000,000 students each day are engaged in collaborative project work worldwide.

    Since 1988, iEARN has pioneered on-line school linkages to enable students to engage in meaningful educational projects with peers in their countries and around the world.
    iEARN is:

    * a safe and structured environment in which young people can communicate
    * an opportunity to apply knowledge in service-learning projects
    * a community of educators and learners making a difference as part of the educational process

    I was iEARN’s volunteer Coordinator in Canada for nearly a decade. I have made many great friendships around the world. iEARN has made me a better educator and a better person.

    My students have learned so much more by learning WITH their peers from other countries, rather than simply learning ABOUT other countries. (See http://www.net4nets.net )

    Netizenship? (my term for “Digital Citizenship, see http://www.netizenship.net ). iEARN has been encouraging and supporting this since 1988!

    Please take some time to learn more about iEARN, “Connecting Youth, Making a Difference!”

    Yours in teaching and learning,

    Bill Belsey

    “Canada’s Coolest Class!”


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