With the advancement of technology in schools, it’s easier than ever for students to communicate and collaborate with other students across the globe. Collaborating globally can introduce students to new experiences, including people, places, and cultures.

Stepping outside of what’s familiar can help students gain empathy. This helps them not only online, but in face-to-face interactions as well. We can flatten walls for our students and offer them the globe. Students can experience the world like never before! Virtual field trips and video chat are great ways to create global collaborations. Your students will enjoy and learn from global collaborations all year long.

Virtual Field Trips

Did you know field trips can now be virtual? Along with saving time not having to plan so many details of a field trip, a virtual field trip gets rid of the geographical barriers that traditional field trips bring. Your students can take a virtual tour of the Louvre in France. They can tour the US National Monuments in Washington, DC or experience an African safari.

Skype in the classroom offers virtual field trips. Virtual field trips open the potential to visit a place outside of your state or country. The Microsoft Educator Community offers access to a variety of different virtual field trip options This also offers the ability for students to travel around the world without a passport, exposing them to different cultures and languages.

Google Connected Classrooms, a Google+ community, offers a variety of resources for teachers wishing to plan virtual field trips for their students. You can post questions if there is a specific field trip wish you have in mind. Or you can browse for virtual field trips currently being offered. Do you have Google Cardboard? If so, try Google Expeditions, an app for both Android and iOS that utilizes Google Cardboard. It lets you take your students on immersive, virtual journeys.
(Note: Google is shutting down the G+ platform in April 2019 – we are hoping that the content of this G+ community is saved to something else that is accessible to educators around the world)

Many museums also offer a virtual field trip for students to experience a place they might not otherwise get to visit. This website lists a variety of different museums that offer virtual field trips for your students to discover.

Video Chat

Another way that you can create global collaboration with your students is to use video chat to connect with others around the world. Connecting with another person or classroom through video brings a fun update to the pen pal. It can also connect your students with people in another country or experts in fields they’re studying.

A fun way to connect with another classroom is to participate in a Mystery Skype session. These mystery sessions can take place on Skype or Google Hangouts. They are a fun way to connect to other classrooms around the globe. Using yes or no questions, your classroom tries to discover where the classroom you’ve connected with is in the world. To begin, have your students research about the area you live in – think geography, population, climate. Once you’ve got this information, your students are ready to solve a mystery! The classroom you’ve connected with has done similar background research. Both classrooms will go back and forth asking yes or no questions until they figure out the location of the other end of the video chat.

Video can help your students through collaborative learning. Although the curriculum varies from school to school, and country to country, talking about general issues that are relevant to your classroom can open your students’ eyes to how another country thinks about that topic. Try connecting with a classroom in Europe when learning about European history. Or connect with a classroom in Mexico when fine-tuning Spanish language skills.

Video chat can also be used to invite a guest to speak to your students. Just like a field trip, sometimes geography hinders us from being able to get a special guest speaker to speak with students. Offering the guest speaker a video chat option can help take the stress off of them since they can speak to your students from the comfort of their own office or home. Does your class have a book they’ve enjoyed? Check the author list at Skype an Author Network to see if the book’s author will video chat with your classroom!

A great reminder for students is to be patient with the learning process through video chat. Some connections may be poor, especially if you or the other classroom or person you are trying to reach has a poor internet connection, or is relying on a public internet connection. 

Bonus Video!

You also might be interested in a FB Live video we recorded last year on how to connected your students to others around the world. This blog post also contains the show notes from that video – listing all the tips and strategies we share!

Tell Us About Your Experiences

Have you tried using technology to connect with people or other classrooms around the world? What have you done? Was it successful?

We’d love to hear your experience! Please tell us in the comments.

First published: May, 2017

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