Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tools For Global Communication

Global communication has vastly improved and evolved along with technology. Communicating with students from another country was much slower and more difficult to arrange. I remember having a "pen-pal" from England in my 4th grade class. I remember writing a letter and waiting a few weeks for a response. The communication was slow, yet the anticipation of a response was much more exciting. Now global communication happens almost instantly. Social networking has vastly evolved with technology to allow people to stay connected regardless of location. As long as they have access to internet, they can create an account and make connection. Social networking tools like google +, facebook, twitter, pinterest, Devianart, springpad,  linkedin, Ning..etc. The list goes on and on. Some of these tools can be useful with global communication in the classroom, however they also require some caution. Social networking sites open up the potential "stranger-danger" anxiety and the risk of "cyber-bullying." As an educator the use of social networking sites requires a lot of monitoring, and a level of training to understand how to secure the networking and ensure that users are safe. 

Other tools that are specific built for schools to collaborate may provide more structure for teachers and students to ensure that there is still some level of control and that safety net is in place for the users. A few sites that provide this structure and can easily connect classrooms are:

 The Global Learning Collaborative -  The Global Learning Collaborative, in partnership with Asia Society, is a member of the International Studies Schools Network. Our common goals are to help students on a path to college readiness and global competency. As a member of the Brandeis Educational Complex, we are able to provide our students with a breadth of academic and extra curricular experiences catering to a wide array of interests and abilities, and as a small school, we truly get to know and support each student, attending to unique needs and goals, with a focus on global citizenship.

Taking it Global - VisionYouth everywhere actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world. MissionEmpowering young people to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges. Purpose: We facilitate global understanding and grow leadership among youth to enhance their participation in social movements for a better world.

ePals - The ePals approach provides an effective way to instruct and reach today's technology savvy students and teachers. ePals provides digital content designed for collaboration and self-paced, self-directed learning as well as a safe platform to share work globally. Authentic ePals projects are centered around meaningful content and experiences that require teamwork, digital literacy skills, higher-level thinking and communication. By engaging in authentic learning experiences about relevant issues, students, teachers and mentors learn and work together, strengthening core learning while motivating learners and building self-confidence and skills necessary for future careers. At the same time, ePals helps teachers learn to use technology effectively in their classrooms, providing professional development, curriculum, contests and other resources.

These three tools have the potential to easily link your classroom with other classrooms globally. It increases the likelihood of collaboration globally. Where the social networking sites require a bit more "leg" work to find and "friend" individuals from around the world.  If a teacher were to expand their classroom for global collaboration  they would need appropriate training and support. Different types of lesson planning are involved when students are required to be good digital citizens and be good representatives of the school. This website provides some lesson plans, and ideas for teachers to use with their students to help prepare them to be respectful digital citizens during collaboration  The teacher and students should be well prepared to collaborate globally and understand the potential difficulties and challenges when working with other students, teachers, and schools via technology. 

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