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Apps for global collaboration: questions and tools to inspire a worldview

| November 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Jennifer Williams

Global collaboration projects allow classrooms of the world to explore together problems of significance and create pathways for curiosity and innovation.

Teachers looking to develop global competencies should aim to target essential questions that broaden thinking beyond the walls of the classroom, such as:

• With increased interdependence and globalisation, 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 webbased tools and apps for learning that include global collaborations. 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.

1. Power of stories and perspective Essential question: How can students share stories with authentic and diverse audiences? How can students demonstrate their capacities to recognise 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:

• Periscope: Periscope1is a free app that allows users to broadcast live video stream from anywhere in the world. 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: SnagIt2 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.

2. 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 interdisciplinary origins, should follow a structure that engages team members to work together to identify patterns, generate possibilities and explore alternate solutions.

• Padlet: Padlet3 is a virtual pinboard that allows students to express and organise their thoughts on a shared topic. Students can create common spaces for posting of content, including videos, images, documents, text, links and notes.

• Voxer: Voxer4 allows learning teams to collaboratively share voice, text, video and photo messages within one platform.

• Kahoot!: With Kahoot!,5 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.

3. Creation of content
Essential question: How can students as creators of content produce digital artefacts that represent creativity and understanding?

Pedagogical basis: 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 artefacts” that can serve as representations of understandings and shared experience.

• Soundtrap: Soundtrap6 is a collaborative tool that allows users to create music and podcasts online. Students can collaborate via embedded videoconferencing with classrooms from around the world.

• ThingLink: ThingLink7 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.

• Nearpod: Nearpod8 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. 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.


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Category: Summer 2016

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