As thought leaders like Chris Lehmann and Will Richardson often remind us, we need to do more than simply use technology to do what we’ve always done digitally. We need to integrate technology in ways that engage students in new and meaningful opportunities for learning, collaborating, and creating. I can think of no better way to enrich students’ learning with technology than by using it to facilitate a global collaboration.
Global collaboration projects bring students together from different countries to work on a joint project. They can be introduced at any age- or grade-level and infused into any subject area curriculum. There are many existing projects to choose from—from simple, short-term projects with just one other partner class to more complex, long-term projects, like Quadblogging in which four classes blog and respond to each other for eight weeks. If you’re new to integrating technology into your curriculum, you might want to start with a shorter, simpler project. For instance, the Pulse Program hosted by Global Nomads Group uses videoconferencing to engage students in cross-cultural dialogue around a significant world issue.
Why should you and your students take on the challenge of a global collaboration project? I can tell you from experience when students are doing real work with peers from around the world, they become empowered to leverage technology as active participants in a global society. They experience how technology enable us to do meaningful, relevant work we would otherwise be unable to do. Students engage in critical thinking through the exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas. They take ownership of their learning as they strive to articulate their ideas to a global audience. They teach each other (and their teachers) as they problem solve and innovate. Whether you’re a novice or a tech guru, you’ll be collaborating with the other teachers in the project, so you’ll be teaching and learning from each other along the way, too.
Still not sure? Here’s what two of my students said about our participation in the Flat Classroom Project, a 12-week project in which we collaborated with 15 other classes in seven different countries to create a vision for the future of education and society based on emerging technologies and the characteristics of the net generation:
“[I learned] how important it is to be a member of a global society—communicating globally and working together as a global community is the only way we can solve global issues and improve the lives of all of us. Communicating and collaborating via the web with global partners is how we will do it in future.” -Lara
“[Participating in this project helped me become] a global leader, able to communicate important global ideas and different perspectives across cultures and borders and share those ideas for the betterment of my community and the world.” -Katherine
Global collaboration projects employ technology tools in ways that enrich student learning. They increase student engagement, foster 21st century skills, and promote deeper learning. These projects prepare students for their futures and engage them as global citizens. By enabling students to interact and collaborate with partners in other countries, they help students develop the digital citizenship and global competence they need to be successful in an increasingly interconnected world.