When I first started teaching international penpals was a popular way of learning about others and forging global friendships. Then came email, then epals and communication became faster. Katherine Zablatnik, (of Austria) founder of the HLW Skypers group (a global skype group of educators across the world) wanted her students to develop a global learning network.
She created a HLW Skypers group for students on skype and then a facebook group for hers and other global students to join but neither really took off. After discussing the apps that we are now using on mobile devices on the skype group, Katherine sought interest from others to see whether any of our students would like to use whatsapp with her students. After asking my students, a number indicated interest. My interested students ranged from year 8 (14 year olds) to year 11 (17 year olds).
What we did:
- students shared phone numbers through their teachers
- downloaded the free whatsapp on their mobile phones
- students were given the list of phone numbers to add to their phone contacts and then could add them to their whatsapp.
- left it to the students to communiate and connect with each other and learn from and with each other.
Whatsapp is a free app that works on wifi and allows text chat, image and video sharing, recorded voice, group chats, shared locations etc
The initial outcomes – this actually worked successfully!:-
- excited students came up to me to share how they had talked to a number of the Austrian students.
- asked what they learnt and talked about – school hours (which are different to ours), muscial instruments played (again some different to ours), languages spoken (Austrian students may lear German, Italian, French and English), ours only learn mandarin Chinese (and then not very well) etc
- students actually thanked me very much for connecting them. If only all classes were like this! Read Kailyn’s blog post
Imagine the possibilites
- students develop their own global learning networks that they can call upon when studying different countries, cultures, geography, history etc.
- can discuss global events and get the full perspective of view points.
- develop empathy
- support each other etc etc
The German Science Class
On Thursday evening, my online colleague Reinhard Marx invited me to his first day with a year 7 Science class at Staedtische Realschule Sundern, to say hello for the new school year in Germany. What a great idea! Giving students a global introduction from day one and providing them with a glimpse that this is to be no ordinary classroom.
It was a brief skype videoconference call, where those students who wished to, came up and introduced themselves to me and shared conversations. My question generally required a simple answer, as English is not their first language. It was “Where did you go for the holidays?”. The answers really interested me as I love travelling and two students had actually been to Greece from where I have just come.
Why do this?
- immediately introduces them to the global classroom where learning can take place and be shared, beyond classroom walls.
- introduces students to new ways of communication in this 21st century – videoconferencing using tools such as skype – a popular communication and connection tool and increasingly used in the workplace.
- exposes students to different accents and ways of talking
- pushes them beyond their comfort zone – it is never easy initially speaking to someone from another country and place
- encourages them to communicate effectively and articulately
- shows them that they may need to use both text chat and audio to ensure names are understood and the actual conversation
- exposes them to different countries, cultures and time zones
- provides me with an opportunity to introduce myself and encourage ongoing connections for further teaching and learning.
- accentuates the differing nature of the world – my classes are nearly finished term 3 of four terms of the current school year compared to their new school year.
A student introduces herself to me
Thanks Reinhard for allowing me the opportunity to welcome them to their new school year. All the best! Have you had the opportunity to welcome students to their school year? Do you think that this is a good idea?
You know there is something great and exciting going on when
- the twitterverse starts pumping out tweets in a continuous wave using the #tag #globaled12 If you do not already follow hashtags, try going to tweetchat and entering globaled12 in the search window and watch the tweets fall. See the globaled12 hashtag analytics
- 1000 people apply for membership to the Global Education ning over two weeks
- here is much animated chat going on in the Global Education Conference social networking site,
- people say hi in their language in the chat
- you can see conversations going on in a number of languages in the chat window
- a multitude of people email to seek advice and answers to questions re a conference,
- presenters are collaborating and working together and when the world is involved there are amazing conversations.
- opportunities for training take place on an increasing scale
With over 330 sessions, a five days of conference and a potential audience drawn from across the world, the Global Education Conference is potentially the World’s Biggest Conference for Educators and people interested in promoting global education. This amazing feat for a conference is online, virtual and best of all free. It does not sleep for 5 days with presentations around the clock! Presenters at this conference include educators, students and various community bodies interested in global education.
The hard work of Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon together with a global committee have been instrumental in its organisation. Do not miss this exciting opportunity to :-
- learn about the world from the world rather than a textbook
- learn with the world
- enjoy the comfort of your home or office space or classroom to be part of some amazing keynotes, spotlighted sessions and many presentations from people who are connecting globally and pushing education beyond our classroom walls.
Check out the schedules and sessions, scroll down find your time zone, click on the link to your timezone and you will be sent to the schedule for where you live. Choose the session(s) you want to attend, look for the link to the room, click on that prior to the session and you will enter the room where that presentation takes place.
Following are links to either lists of some of my favourite projects and connections and some suggestions for those people who are new to global education of presentations that might be of interest to them.
- Hello Little World Skypers presentations
- Flat Classoom Project presenters and Stories from the Flat Classroom with Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis
- Sessions that might interest those who are new to global education.
See also Julie Lindsay’s great post on How to attend the global education conference.
Are you presenting? What sessions would you suggest? What do you think of an amazing conference like this? What excites you about this conference? Have you attended any of the past global education conferences?
Hope to see you there!