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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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How to Go Global in Your Classroom

Bob Lenz

Founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA

Given the level of technical sophistication of today's students, why not use technology to extend the classroom and collaborate globally?

Today's digitally connected world presents challenges and opportunities never before seen. To be successful in the workplace tomorrow, students must know how to interactively collaborate with peers locally as well as globally.

As educational expert Kathy Koch writes, "This generation of students is unlike any we've educated before, because they have been raised in a world drastically different from their parents and most teachers."

As I mentioned in a previous Edutopia.org post, Envision Schools uses project learning to help students master academically challenging content in a collaborative fashion.

Students collectively write papers using Google Docs, as well as script short films and Web sites. It's a low-cost way for students to work in teams, share ideas, and use class time effectively.

Another example of how technology can be used to expand the classroom is at Stanford University's Institute of Design. There, Professor David Kelly invites industry experts to give presentations on YouTube that students must view before class. Experts are then invited into the classroom, where students can spend the entire class period asking questions and learning more.

But experts and student peers needn't be physically present for effective collaboration to take place. For instance, in one American high school, students collaborated with peers in Singapore to create a Web site promoting tolerance. Students divided up their assignment, shared documents via the Internet, and created a finished Web site that provided resources and lessons to teach tolerance and stop bullying.

This not only helped them master rigorous academic content, it also gave them firsthand cross-cultural perspectives they otherwise wouldn't have had. The student team received an award from Oracle's ThinkQuest Education Foundation that recognized the value of their Web site and collaboration.

How are you using technology to expand the classroom and encourage global collaboration? Please share with us.

Bob Lenz

Founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA
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Comments (56)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Craig Jones's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The idea to use the internet to connect students in various parts of the world is a wonderful idea! When I was a student, my third grade class was able to take part in a collaborative video chat with students from across the United States, and it was a memorable experience. Students need this type of exposure to the world outside of the one they know.

As a teacher, I have not ventured into anything nearly as encompassing as connecting my students with other students around the world, but have started with the basics. Students research different cultures, histories, and people using different technologies, and put their information together in a Myspace account. They then view and comment their peers Myspace projects. The students seem to enjoy the process collecting and presenting the information in the public Myspace forum because of their own personal usage of the peer networking site, and really get into the project.

Katherine Lively's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am excited about the possibilities that the internet gives our students. The idea of students learning from others around the world and getting various perspectives on traditions, cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles can help our students better solve problems and understand differences among each other. I want to do some project-based learning activities that involve others from around the world, but I want the learning experience to be beneficial for my students. Which sites would be best for me to start searching on that are reputable and safe? How do I know some of these sites are safe?

Kaleena Stackhouse's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Students today are very fortunate to have the opportunity to use a variety of technology. I feel as if students are more engaged into the lessons because of the use of Smart boards, computers, and etc.

I am currently a grad student, enrolled in a technology class through Walden University. I am eager to learn more about blogging, wikis, and podcasts. I must say this past year I have tried to incorporate some podcasts and videos. However, the problem that I run into, like most teachers, is that many sites are blocked at my school. For example, You Tube EDU, has some wonderful videos that I will never get to use because of it being blocked. Does anyone else run into this problem?

Despite of the many sites that are blocked, I do use Powermedia Plus a lot (http://www.powermediaplus.com/). This website is full of podcasts, videos, audios, lessons, and so much more. It is absolutely worth checking out if you would like to include more technology in your lessons.

barbara kington's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It is a wonderful feeling to know that there is something available that can connect students with students around the world.

Imagine doing history of the Caribbean and being able to blog or log in to elearning classes with students in Jamaica, Trinidad or Cuba .

With this high way there is stopping the students and teachers, or anyone who wants to know. It is up to us as teachers not to stand on the sideline and allow this advancement to pass us by.

We have an important asset in our grasp let us utilize it for the advancement of our nation. Needless to say we will have to ensure that our 'technological savvy students' don't out smart us and waste valuable time surfing the interent for music and videos but for their advancement in knowledge.

Nicole Naditz's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As a world language teacher, the Internet has transformed my practice. When I started teaching in 1993, I didn't even have a computer, let alone the internet. I could tell my students about the French-speaking world, maybe even find a few pictures, films and magazines, but that was it.

In a complete transformation from my beginnings as a teacher, last year, my students used wikis to communicate with e-pals in Belgium, created virtual cultural research projects, and shared their learnings about solar energy in order to provide lanterns to a remote village at our Peace Corps Partner School in French-speaking Africa--all using wikis. They've used a ning to share their knowledge about the French Revolution and Napoleon before actually creating and then hosting a student-created museum downtown. Each of my 150 students recorded multiple podcasts over the course of the year (in French) which I then uploaded.

This year, I hope to take their online collaboration and production further by engaging them in (appropriate) blogs and podcasts with other French speakers and enhancing their use of wikis, nings and other online tools to collaborate with others, in their class and in the world--hopefully to tackle (in French!) problems and questions that my students generate!

As one respondant mentioned already, it is a good idea to experiment with these technologies yourself before trying them with students. For example, I created numerous wikis for teacher collaboration before I started using them with students last year. I recorded and uploaded a few podcasts myself before I had students start recording them. I also converted a professional organization web site I manage from a traditional web site to a ning before I introduced nings to my students.

Linda Keane, AIA's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Using everyday technology can empower teachers as well as their students in understanding that learning that is currently individually tested is actually in the bigger pictures for the greater good. We can learn from globalization about more sustainable practices and contributing to change and addressing the need for change for others beside just ourselves. Although all US teachers have been introduced to the computer, there needs to be greater encouragement and support for them to use it as a cross disciplinary research and creative tool. As a past Fulbright grantee, I was surprised to learn that only 10% of US students travel abroad during their college years making the cross cultural engagement really critical for the K12 experience. With technology we can bring in global practices and global role models. www.NEXT.cc, an educational non profit, offers local based activities linked to over a thousand resources that enliven the ethical imagination, or understanding that while our world is finite, our imagination is infinite.

Linda Keane, AIA's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Using everyday technology can empower teachers as well as their students in understanding that learning that is currently individually tested is actually in the bigger pictures for the greater good. We can learn from globalization about more sustainable practices and contributing to change and addressing the need for change for others beside just ourselves. Although all US teachers have been introduced to the computer, there needs to be greater encouragement and support for them to use it as a cross disciplinary research and creative tool. As a past Fulbright grantee, I was surprised to learn that only 10% of US students travel abroad during their college years making the cross cultural engagement really critical for the K12 experience. With technology we can bring in global practices and global role models. www.NEXT.cc, an educational non profit, offers local based activities linked to over a thousand resources that enliven the ethical imagination, or understanding that while our world is finite, our imagination is infinite.

George  Guild's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As the Director of Economic Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston we have for four years now provided a summer teacher workshop on globalization and international economics and over that time have discovered quality resources that we have recommended to participating teachers that utilize current technology to enhance greater global understanding

The website www.globalization101.org for teachers and students seeking briefs, expert ananylsis and multiple perspectives on globalization

Takingitglobal.org for students and teachers seeking the
ability to access young people from across the globe

The International Economic Summit Institute - a ten lesson curriculum that addresses global awareness and economic literacy that culminates in a trade simulation

Primary Source- for those who want to and can extend the classrrom learning to other countries
www.primarysource.org

marissa bagunas's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

hi! im the principal of schola nazaria philippines and id really like to collaborate with other schools. but i dont know how to start or where to look for partner schools. last year, my kids started with pen pals wth various schs in the US...
can anyone help me? my email is marissabagunas@yahoo.com

thanks

Alyssa OBrien's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

At Stanford University, we are also attempting to expand the classroom through the Cross-Cultural Rhetoric project, or CCR (http://ccr.stanford.edu). For the past four years, students in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford have been meeting other students in the virtual space of the video-conference or the blog, and the students love it! Our work started as a research endeavor, funded by the Wallenberg Global Learning Network - the very mission of the grant was to use technology to extend the classroom and collaborate globally. So we submitted our proposal in an effort to find new technologies for the classroom that would improve teaching, enhance student learning, and foster global collaboration. In four years, we designed and built "Collaboration Stations" in Wallenberg Hall that would allow for small-group collaborative work using video, audio, chat, a writing space, a recording space, and internet portals. (Thanks to Bob Smith and his team!) We also developed a pedagogy and set of best practices that are available on our website for all to use.

Four years down the road, we have moved from connecting students in one class at Stanford with one class at Orebro University in Sweden to now connecting students across five continents. Our international partners include the American University in Cairo, National University of Singapore, Uppsala University in Sweden, Khabarovsk State Academy in Russia, University of Sydney, University of Lausanne Switzerland, and potentially new partners in Korea and China.

But we are still learning! We are in truth a small project run by lecturers who teach the required writing classes but who want to give our students the opportunity to collaborate with real audiences. Now, our students analyze advertisements and political cartoons together, they present research to each other, they exchange feedback on their writing assignments, and most of all they learn about each other's cultures and perspectives through an open exchange of ideas.

Through CCR, we can now create virtual classes constituted of students from many countries and cultures. The purpose of such connections is to equip students with the communication and collaboration strategies they need for ethical engagement in an ever-changing world. From a practical perspective, students take on active roles as global citizens: constructing new knowledge, analyzing and understanding culture through its artifacts, and extending global learning beyond the sphere of individual or national boundaries.

We're always open to new partners or sharing the research and practices we've learned. Thanks for this blog entry - we've enjoyed learning from all of you.

Alyssa O'Brien (aobrien@stanford.edu) & Christine Alfano (alfano@stanford.edu)

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