is Up! Now What?

The website for my Fulbright project is ready to be used. This is from the “How this Website Works” page:

“Global Schoolroom is a site by and for teachers. The goal is to enable educators who want to deeply engage in global issues with their students by pooling our resources of assignment ideas, project ideas, and other classroom materials. This site was created for sharing and globalschoolroomgrabcollaboration.

“The notice board at the center of the homepage is a place where teachers anywhere in the world can directly communicate with each other and plan collaborative activities, projects, or assignments.

“Members of the site are also authors. This means once a teacher joins, they can share their materials and ideas to the appropriate pages.”

It ain’t perfect, but it works!

In the process of making the website I thought a good deal about global education and its goals (more about that later). I have come to see “global competencies” as a key component of a basic secondary education. The fact that education systems are tied to political units–countries, mostly, but smaller units as well–is not logistically helpful in a world where so many people are on the move, where so many of the opportunities and challenges are global.

One way to think about it: When most of those asked (52%) identify global citizenship as more important on the individual level than national citizenship, and when 1 in 4 Californians was born outside the US, it seems high time to think about how we conceive of the world when we design our courses, especially civics and history.

It remains strikingly difficult to take our students outside our classrooms in meaningful ways, despite the internet. Study abroad programs, whIMG_4938ich are wonderful and change lives (including mine), are expensive. Many websites promising global connections actually link a few prescribed schools, often within a very structured program. This is fine, but it isn’t teacher-centered.

In my experience, the most common educational use of the Internet is as a source for learning, much like a book. I send my students to websites to read text; I ask them to watch a video. Even when students create interesting content, it often remains locked inside password-protected applications like moodle of Haiku. Obviously, all sorts of teachers are doing all sorts of cool things online. But how can we find out about them?

IMG_4099In their lives outside of school, our students engage in all sorts of two-way digital communication–a recent example is the application Periscope–but as teachers we continue to use the Net more like a television than a window or a door. In this way, educators’ practical use of technology for communication is far behind that of their students, in general.

The good news!: face-to-face applications applications like Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout, Snapchat and Periscope are easy to use and complemented by text- and image-based sharing sites such as Padlet. But the problem remains: even if we want to talk to someone outside the classroom, whom do we talk to? We just don’t have time to do a global search for a like-minded educator.

I’m hopeful that globalschoolroom will help a bit with the answer to that question. So now I am trying to find ways of telling teachers outside the US about the website. Any tips or advice is graciously welcomed!

It occurs to me that what I am doing right now is exactly that legwork that dissuades teachers from finding partners for collaboration abroad–finding teachers outside of wealthy schools and wealthy countries, outside of those already engaging in global education initiatives. Wish me luck.

It’s been an education putting it together. I have learned more about website design than I ever thought I would! But now the hard part.


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