Sunday, August 18, 2013

Global Connections

Teachers today are faced with the task of teaching 21st century skills. These learning skills require students to collaborate, create, and communicate information.  There are a variety of technology tools that allow for students to easily achieve these skills and interact on a global scale. Students have a significant opportunity to connect to other students from anywhere around the world. As Thomas Friedman claims “technology has made the world flat.” Which means that technology has made it incredibly easy to connect with people around the world and complete simple tasks without leaving the comfort of your home.

Many students have rarely have the opportunity to travel out of their home state, or country. The opportunity to experience world cultures and global attitudes is a great educational value. It helps provide perspective on your own life. Technology tools have the ability to connect students globally, and provide that opportunity to learn and discuss cultural differences, global issues, and gain a better world perspective without having the physical means to directly go to these exoctic places. There are a variety of tools where the teacher can provide this experience, however it can seem like a daunting task. Integrating these tools and a global experience into a classroom can be more successful if the teacher takes small steps.

A good first step may be to include some social networking tools like Edmodo or Google Plus to encourage students to collaborate online with their own class. These tools are safe ways for students to interact online and begin to understand how they can collaborate in a virtual setting  The next step would be to extend the classroom collaboration to work with another teacher in the building through the same social networking tool. Again, this can provide that virtual experience, but there is also the familiarity that these students are just down the hall. Once students are used to the online collaboration other tools might be used to bring that global connection. Tools like ePals, or Taking It Global are similar social networking sites, but they are better organized to connect educators and classrooms from around the world. The teacher can make an account for the students in the class and find projects that pertain to their lesson. Then students have the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other another classroom around the world to explore the same concepts. Other tools like wikis and blogs can allow students to collaborate globally, but there are more indirect. There is a chance that students and individuals from around the world will collaborate with those tools, but it is not a guarantee. If the teacher is committed to provide a global connectedness ePals and Taking it Global provide a safer, and more organized way to connect to other classrooms, globally.

When starting out with this type of collaboration, taking small steps to get started has potential to provide more success and offer a better experience.

Friedman, T,L. 2005. The World is Flat: A Brief History of The 21st Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition


  1. I love using google apps and drive to teach student how to collaborate. We did a project last year that required them to create a script and I showed them how to chat through google while they were on the document so they could work on it from home and how to leave comments for when other group members went onto the document. They loved it!

  2. I had never heard of epals or taking it global. I went and checked both of them out and hope that I can investigate in more depth to try to use some of the things I saw in my classroom. The school year just started for me though, and it has been exhausting!