Global Collaboration: Beyond Classroom Borders
Posted by: Rory R. Morse, Teacher, Cottonwood Creek ACTION School
So what exactly is global collaboration you ask? That’s a great question. In our ever-connected world, this is a term that has become widely popular in recent times. Global collaboration is interacting with others online using either synchronous or asynchronous platforms. These include online interactions like on Edmodo, or real-time encounters using a video-based platform like Skype, to build learning communities that result in students authentically collaborating with peers worldwide for both short and long-term connections.
The term global collaboration is commonly used to refer to the ways that teachers and students are connecting with others around the world for virtual collaborative experiences. There are numerous benefits for both teachers and students to collaborate globally. These connections offer an enhanced understanding of others in similar situations, and foster an awareness that extends beyond the borders of the traditional brick and mortar classroom. Students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. These leaders will be expected to think beyond the borders or limitations that have been traditionally set for them. They will be required to work together with other, like-minded individuals to accomplish a broader task. As teachers, it is our responsibility to prepare today’s students for a changing tomorrow.
There are so many ways that a teacher can facilitate global collaboration. The most popular venue due to time-zone restrictions is using a discussion forum of some type. I have found that Edmodo totally fits the bill with its ease of use and layers of security for student safety. These interactions are usually some form of asynchronous collaboration where students are able to connect with other students, share about themselves and their community, and then respond to their learning partners across the planet. A synchronous encounter is where students can engage with their counterparts using FaceTime or Skype to give the students access to real-time connections with their global partners.
There are no rules that say that a globally collaborative learning community has to use both synchronous and asynchronous tools to get the job done. Any work toward connecting across borders is a step in the right direction. Teachers can use the resources that are available to them to get started and let the students take it from there. The learning communities that are created can support short or long-term collaborations between students, and have the potential to be diverse in their outcomes.
I am from Alaska and am currently working with a teacher in Kentucky that is heading up a global collaboration pen pals group for students. Additionally, there is a classroom in Russia that is working on the project with us. Combined, there are almost 200 students participating in the group. We are in the infancy of this program, but I am excited to see what the future of our efforts have in store. Being a part of this will help to not only engage students, but also to expose them to their global peers.
In the past, I have participated in post card exchanges. This was a good way for students to express themselves in writing about where they come from, but it left many of the students wanting more. This global connection allows students to safely explore their peers from around the block and around the planet, but thanks to Edmodo, this can do so much more!
So how does a teacher get started with global collaboration? Here is how we did it… One teacher put in a request in an Edmodo group to join the Global Collaboration project. After several teachers responded, the organizer sent out the group code and we signed the students into the group. Once the students were in the group, they were assigned to a small group for their discussions. The rest is up to the students to strike up a dialog and foster their connections with their global peers.
One key to being successful in collaborating globally is to find like-minded teachers to partner with. This will help the plan and implementation of fostering connections between the students and make the experience exciting for all. There are an increasing number of students and teachers embarking on new adventures in global collaboration with many of these happening on Edmodo. Since we can collaborate globally every day, every day should be celebrated as Global Collaboration Day.