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Apps for Global Collaboration: Questions and Tools to Inspire a Worldview

Today, Jennifer Williams, co-founder of Calliope Global and adjunct professor for Saint Leo University, introduces apps for global collaboration and purposeful connection. Discuss this topic in-depth with Jennifer this Thursday, March 17, at 8pm Eastern, when she hosts #GlobalEdChat on Twitter.

By guest blogger Jennifer Williams

In our interconnected world of today, students are presented with extraordinary opportunities for inquiry, investigation, analysis of thought, and interdisciplinary learning that crosses both curricular content and national borders. Global collaboration projects allow classrooms of the world to together explore problems of significance and create pathways for curiosity and innovation. Teachers looking to develop global competencies often aim to incorporate practices that target essential questions that broaden thinking beyond the walls of the classroom, such as:

With increased interdependence and globalization, how can I best bring the world to my students and my students to the world?

How can I extend the perspectives of my students to address problems and issues through the lens of an integrated worldview?

Are my classrooms building "docks" or are we together "building bridges" with classrooms of the world?

In recent years, accelerated technology adoption in schools has allowed for meaningful and accessible use of web-based tools and apps for learning that include global collaborations. Paired with innovative teaching practices and advanced methodologies, this integrated use of technology has empowered students to investigate worlds beyond their immediate environments. Teachers looking to connect with international classrooms can begin to develop libraries of applications and relevant tools for use in collaborations. As with any lesson design, the adoption of the best tools needs to be determined based on individual student needs and established essential questions that guide the search for knowledge.

In what follows, I offer guiding questions and apps for learning as starting points for global collaboration lessons to encourage student voice and engagement across content areas, native language, and grade levels.

Power of Stories and Perspective
Essential Question: How can students share stories with authentic and diverse audiences? How can students demonstrate their capacities to recognize the perspectives of others to celebrate geographic, linguistic, and cultural differences?

Pedagogical Basis: Standards of practice call for students to communicate with diverse populations across the four primary areas of communication: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Purposeful conversations and sharing of stories allow for the exchange of ideas and personal narratives. Shared experience, therefore, can lead to empathy and an awareness of the world and how it works. 

Suggested Tools:

  • phone.jpgPeriscope: Periscope is a free app that allows users to broadcast live video stream from anywhere in the world. Periscope allows for the natural creation of an authentic audience for student presenters, and settings allow for private or public viewing depending on the desired participants. Students can demonstrate a skill, share a talent, give a school tour, or present on a project simply by creating a "scope" for the world to view.
  • SnagIt: SnagIt allows student presenters to record computer/device screens and corresponding audio recordings/presentations. Recordings can further capture screenshots, videos, images, and files. The easy-to-use platform allows students to visually explain perspectives and share stories, and captured presentations can be shared with global audiences to invite discussion or elaboration.

Reason with Evidence
Essential Question: How does student work illustrate an ability to investigate the world and matters of global significance?

Pedagogical Basis: As part of a collaborative team, students today must possess the ability to ask and explore critical and researchable questions. Investigations, informed by disciplinary and interdisciplinary origins, should follow a structure that engages team members to work together to identify patterns, generate possibilities, and explore alternate solutions.

Tools:

  • Padlet: Padlet is a virtual corkboard that allows students to express and organize their thoughts on a shared topic. Students can create common spaces for posting of content, including videos, images, documents, text, links, and notes. Within collaborative teams, classrooms can work together to share from any device, anywhere in the world.
  • Voxer: Voxer allows learning teams to collaboratively share voice, text, video, and photo messages within one platform. Similar to a modern day walkie talkie, Voxer is a convenient way for classrooms of the world to share, plan, and discuss investigations.
  • Kahoot!: With Kahoot!, students and teachers can create, share, and play learning games across all content areas and grade levels. By simply entering a unique code into any networked device, classrooms of the world can come together simultaneously in a global game of play and learning. Questions in the created Kahoot! games can inspire inquiry and allow for engaging views into geography and culture.

Creation of Content
Essential Question: How can students as creators of content produce digital artifacts that represent creativity and understanding?

Pedagogical Basis: Students should demonstrate the ability to construct knowledge and deep understandings of the world. With a focus on big ideas and central themes, students can work together to create and propel learning forward through active engagement and visible thinking routines. Students as content creators and global collaborators have the power to make "digital artifacts" that can serve as representations of understandings and shared experience.

Tools:

  • Soundtrap: SoundTrap is a collaborative tool that allows users to create music and podcasts online. Within the platform, students can collaborate via embedded videoconferencing with classrooms from around the world. Teachers can guide global learning teams by creating group assignments that encourage expression, creativity, communication, and cooperation. Digital artifacts can be stored and shared with global audiences following completion.
  • ThingLink: ThingLink offers an interactive media platform that allows students to create engaging content to demonstrate understanding of a concept or topic. By adding video, audio, images, and more, students can use ThingLink individually or as part of collaborative teams to share with the world. Global projects can include activities such as creating interactive narratives, news reports, photo histories, interactive maps, and infographics.
  • Nearpod: Nearpod is a free web-based educational tool that allows students and teachers to create and share interactive lessons with classrooms of the world. Lesson content can include embedded videos, audio, images, text, PDFs, Twitter streams, and interactive activities, such as polls, open-ended questions, quizzes, and drawing items. Following collaborative methodologies and frameworks that promote global perspectives and cultural awareness, the "Field Trips" interactive feature allows students to access the world through virtual reality and 360Cities panoramic digital content.

With a focus on global collaboration and content creation, teachers can empower students in classrooms of the world to be change-agents of today and of the future. By shifting the lens of instruction and assessment to include a range of possible solutions, teachers can encourage cultural curiosity and sensitivity thereby guiding students to be solvers of problems of our world.

Indeed for a globally minded teacher, all children of the world are her students and all lands of the earth her classroom.

To learn more about Jennifer, find her on Twitter at @JenWilliamsEdu.

Image: phone screenshot courtesy of the Periscope app.

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