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Are You Ready for a Connected Learning Year? (Part 2)

A continuation from last week's post on how teachers can collaborate with other educators around the world.

by Honor Moorman

Last Friday, I suggested taking a look at some of the successful global collaboration projects educators are already engaged in and thinking about the kind of project you're looking for. Now that you're ready to begin your search, here are some recommended resources.

There are several non-profit organizations working to help connect schools and students globally. iEARN boasts a network of 130 countries and offers an array of projects across all grade levels and content areas. Visit their Collaboration Centre to browse more than 200 existing projects or design your own. TakingITGlobal brings together young people to collaborate on concrete projects addressing global problems and creating positive change. You can connect with educators from around the world and explore their collaborative projects in the TIGed educator community. And the Flat Classroom Projects provide opportunities for students to engage in collaborative inquiry and multimedia projects around issues of global significance.

ThinkQuest hosts an international competition in which student teams identify a problem and create a website, game, video, or other digital media project to address. Their matching tool helps teachers coordinate to create international teams. Plan's Youth Engagement and Action program also has a School-2-School Linking program that connects young people in the United States with their peers in developing countries. And the One World Youth Project not only pairs your classroom with one abroad, they also train and provide university students to help you facilitate a semester-long cultural exchange.

One thing to consider in selecting a collaboration project is the kind of technology students will use for connected learning. If you're interested in video conferencing, Global Nomads Group is an international NGO that offers videoconferences connecting youth with their peers around the world as they learn about international issues. Skype now has Skype in the Classroom, a free online community where you can connect with other teachers, classes and guest speakers, and search projects by age, language, or subject. A great example of a Skype project is Around the World with 80 Schools.

Another effective way to bring two or more classrooms together is through blogging. Each class or student can have a blog, and you can get students interacting with each other via commenting and linking between their posts or by participating in QuadBlogging. Edublogger provides lists of class blogs by grade level and content area and the Edublogs Awards recognize the best class blogs each year.

There are several notable science projects that leverage global collaboration. The GLOBE program (an acronym for "Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment") engages students in worldwide investigations of the environment. The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education offers Collaboration Projects on a variety of science and engineering topics. The Journey North Global Study of Wildlife Migration and Seasonal Change enables students to observe, document and exchange seasonal data with a partner class via their mobile app or other technologies.

Arts, literature, and international issues are a natural fit for globally connected learning. The Rock Our World project enables students around the world to create music together, and the ArtLink Program facilitates classroom exchanges through visual arts. There are some wonderful language arts and literacy projects designed for younger students, such as the Flat Stanley Project, the Monster Exchange Project, and the Global Read Aloud Project. And if you're looking to engage older students in diplomatic discussions of international issues, I recommend the Online Model United Nations community or the ICONS Project.

If none of these projects are what you have in mind, try searching the ePals Global Community, GlobalSchoolNet, or the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration. If you're interested in developing your own project, reach out to the Global Education Conference Network, Classroom 2.0, or one of the other communities listed in the Connected Educators Directory. Whether you join one of these projects or create your own, be sure to share your experiences with your online networks. Being a connected educator is about continually learning from and with each other. And the best way to model global collaboration is to let your students see you connecting and communicating with other educators around the world.

Let Connected Educator Month be the beginning of a "Connected Learning Year" for you and your students, and let the global collaboration begin!

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