With technology, students don’t need to leave the classroom in order to take a trip around the world. In November 2011, Edmodo, a social networking site, teamed up with Polar Bears International to send five people to the Tundra to film polar bears and stream webcasts straight to 1,700 classrooms around the world. Websites like Khan Academy, YouTube, and Stanford’s free online classes, have become highly accessible databases of knowledge available to people around the world. Social networking is being used in and outside of the classroom to extend the learning community for students after they leave school and for educators to connect with other teachers around the nation and world.
At Charlotte Jewish Day School, once a week students in grades K-5 connect with students around the world using a social network called ePals Global Community, according to the article “Students Go ‘Global’ Thanks to Technology.” Students and their e-Pal counterparts research about their e-Pal’s country, email each other questions, and send each other videos, due to the time differences many e-Pals can’t speak live using Skype.
Educators found that the global classroom taught children more than geography and culture; a “service-learning component” also arose. Fifth-graders were paired with Israeli students who explained to their American e-Pals that they take showers differently than people in the U.S. due to a water shortage: “They turn on the water, turn it off to soap up, turn it on to rinse, then turn it off again.” The American students decided to research water waste in the U.S. and monitor their water use.
In the article, Caroline McMillan explains the global connections students in each grade are making:
The kindergarteners are studying weather with a school in France; the first-graders are discussing animals and their habitats with Taiwanese students; and the second-graders are learning about climate maps with Switzerland and Canada.
Meanwhile, the third-graders are talking natural disasters with their counterparts in Christchurch, New Zealand; the fourth-graders are tackling global warming with a school in Thailand; and the fifth-graders are communicating with Israeli students (often in Hebrew) to discuss water issues.
Bringing a global perspective into the classroom using technology is much more than a novelty. The workforce is global. Socializing is global. Academia is global. Students who learn to think globally will have more possibilities as they make their way through middle school, high school, and beyond. Imagine the places students will dream of going when the world is exposed to them in elementary school.
“Students Go ‘Global’ Thanks to Technology,” by Caroline McMillan. 6 February 2012. The Charlotte Observer. Accessed on 10 February 2012. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/02/05/2979671/students-go-global-thanks-to-technology.html