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Are You Ready for a Connected Learning Year? (Part 1)

My colleague Honor Moorman recently published a chapter in the Classroom 2.0 book explaining how networked learning is a student right. I couldn't agree more. But students need to see how global collaboration works. Here, Honor shares educator tips on how to connect and communicate with other teachers around the world.

The Connected Educator Month theme is "Network to learn, collaborate to innovate." Throughout August, educators have been participating in numerous networked learning opportunities. As this month-long initiative comes to a close, it seems appropriate to ask ourselves, "Now what?"

Now that we've experienced networked learning for our own professional development, how can we extend this kind of globally connected authentic learning opportunity to our students?

Three years ago, my colleague Cassie Allen and I began teaching 21st Century Global Leadership, a high-school course we designed to help students develop global competence. And while we accomplished much in the first semester, we soon recognized there was a key component lacking. Students were investigating the world, weighing perspectives, communicating ideas, and taking action, but only within the limited context of our school in San Antonio, Texas.

What was missing? The opportunity to not only learn about the world, but to learn collaboratively from and with others in world.

We joined the Flat Classroom Project and it transformed our class. Students were not only investigating the world, they were doing so collaboratively with peers around the globe. They were not only recognizing different perspectives, they were interacting with their colleagues to compare different worldviews on the subject they were studying together. Ultimately, our students took action by communicating their ideas to a truly global audience in a virtual summit. And in the fall of 2010, we gained an even broader global audience by participating in the first annual Global Education Conference.

Fellow global educators often ask me for advice on finding other classrooms to partner with or global collaboration projects to participate in. The first step is to become a connected educator: establish a connection with other teachers who will become your virtual colleagues. There are two key networks I recommend for connecting with potential partners: the Global Education Conference Network and the Classroom 2.0 community, especially the Distance Collaboration Group.

My best advice is to tap into an existing project. There are lots of them! But before you begin your search, take a few minutes to define what kind of project you're looking for.

  • What areyour project goals? How will you incorporate your content area standards in addition to giving your students opportunities for developing global competencies?
  • What time frame do you have in mind? Are you looking for a long-term project or a short-term one?
  • What scope do you have in mind? Are you looking to connect with a single teacher/classroom/school or multiple partners?
  • What kind of partner(s) are you looking for? Grade level? Subject area? Location?

If you're not sure what you're looking for, or you'd like to see some examples for inspiration, you might start with the networks I mentioned above. Or take a look at Connect All Schools whose goal is for all U.S. schools to connect internationally by 2016. They are collecting stories to document how this is happening (here's a link to mine).

On Tuesday, I'll share links to all kinds of projects that offer you and your students opportunities for connected learning and global collaboration.

To discuss this and other ideas surrounding #globallearning, join us for a Twitter chat August 30 at 8:00 PM Eastern.

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