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.
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.