The August issue of TCEA’s quarterly magazine TechEdge focuses on how educators can integrate global connections and global perspective into learning to help broaden students’ experiences. Today, we’re sharing a bonus article on the theme with our blog readers. If you enjoy this article, you’ll love the upcoming magazine. If you’re a TCEA member, check your mailbox soon for your copy. If you’re not currently a member and would like to get this fantastic resource with the latest news and real stories from educators in the classroom, learn more about joining TCEA here.
The inability for a student to physically travel the globe no longer limits their ability to have global experiences. Technology provides a way to expand our frame of reference or point of view, as learners, through a lens that moves beyond the borders of time and space. These enriching experiences can come through videos, virtual tours, online live connections, and interactive activities that move learners to a deeper understanding.
Creating Authentic Experiences
A more authentic experience can take place when we bring the world to our students. Students can take virtual tours of historic landmarks and investigate global cultures and geography via virtual opportunities like Google Earth. They can participate in Mystery Skypes and build a capacity for asking high-level, probing questions of students across the country or world to reveal their “secret” geographical location. They can virtually interview students from different cultural backgrounds to identify common characteristics, explore differences, and dispel potentially inaccurate perceptions.
Building an opportunity into our instructional day to allow students to explore the breadth of the world can offer a new perspective of the environment they live in day to day. Tracy Cates, a K-2 GT teacher at Clyde Elementary said that through Mystery Skypes, her “students realize better that learning is occurring all over the world. They are sometimes jealous of the things that other schools are doing or participating in and wish that we could do those things as well. At other times, they are thankful for how things are done here in Clyde.” She communicated that she too has created global connections through the process and continues to collaborate with her Google friends through Google Communities. What a great concept: working together to make the world a better place!
Five Tools for Building Global Connections
Through ever improving technology, we can now communicate with anyone, anytime, anywhere and potentially through the watch on your wrist! Students can collaborate with students down the street, across the continent, or on the other side of the world to solve problems, create projects, and form learning communities, even if they don’t speak the same language.
The walls of classrooms dissolve through opportunities for students to connect with others across the world through platforms like G Suite, ZOOM, and my new favorite, Belouga.
❏ G Suite applications provide collaboration on demand. They allow connectivity through multiple opportunities like Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets that can be shared with multiple contributors and without time zone barriers. Visit edu.google.com to learn more.
❏ Google Communities provide a platform for students to connect in multiple areas of interest and in an authentic way by contributing and consuming as digital learners inside the communities of their choice. Join today at plus.google.com.
❏ Connecting through Google Sites allows for students to create ePortfolios to show their learning and connect with others through the digital sharing of their learning. Create your site at sites.google.com.
❏ ZOOM is a user-friendly platform for video conferencing that includes features of screen sharing, document sharing, and recording. ZOOM allows for multiple participants and the ability for multiple hosts. Visit zoom.us to learn more.
❏ Belouga not only connects classrooms of students and perpetuates the opportunity for global collaborative learning and education, but it also gives students the opportunity to earn reward points and then donate them to help provide educational opportunities for students who live in under-resourced communities. People helping people through collaborative connections is truly the spirit of perspective expansion. Connect your classroom today at belouga.org.
The Value of Global Perspective
When students have an opportunity to expand their global point of view through choices in their education path, they take ownership of their learning, find their voice, and share their experiences with others. And all of this takes place in an authentic learning environment.
Students tend to take the initiative to explore other perspectives with the smallest sparks of encouragement from teachers. Now is the time to gift global perspective and connection to our students. For some, this will be life altering in a way that we can never measure with a project or a grade.
This is a guest blog by Angela Thomas. Angela is a curriculum consultant with fifteen years classroom experience and an increasing passion for meaningful technology integration into instruction.