This post was first published in 2011 and updated in June, 2018.
One of the things I love most about blogging with students is the opportunity for global collaboration.
When I first began blogging with my grade three class in 2008, I didn’t even think about the possibility of connecting with other classes. Around six months into our blogging journey, we began to cross paths with other teachers and students around the world.
There have been so many highlights from my connection with Linda Yollis and her class. We’ve worked on many collaborative projects together, met in person when we presented at ISTE, and two of my students even visited Mrs Yollis’ class on separate occasions.
Aside from Mrs Yollis’ class, my students have had the chance to connect with others from all parts of the world. This has been through regular commenting interactions on our blog, or more structured global projects.
The Importance of Global Competency
Work is Changing
When I first began teaching in 2004, I worked at the local school and my interactions with anyone outside of the community were very limited.
Fast forward to 2018 — I teach part time and am also working with Edublogs which means I interact with colleagues and the blogging community (who live in all corners of the globe) on a daily basis. Perhaps this model is going to be very familiar to our students when they hit the workforce — combining local and international employment.
The workforce is certainly changing, but are schools reflecting this change?
Helping our students to develop global competency is more important than ever.
Teaching for Global Competence in a Rapidly Changing World
In early 2018, the OECD and the Asia Society released a publication. It’s called Teaching for Global Competence in a Rapidly Changing World. It’s well worth a read.
The report defines the skills required by globally competent youth and provides guidance on how to embed global competence into the curriculum.
As Harvard Professor Fernando Retners says in the report
We’re not going to educate global citizens by organising a food festival in a school once a year.
The report suggests globally competent students have the knowledge and skills to:
- Investigate the world — being aware, curious, and interested
- Recognize perspectives — understand others may not share your perspectives
- Communicate ideas — verbally and non-verbally, with diverse audiences
- Take action — not just learning about the world but making a difference
The report breaks down some of the reasons why global competency is a must:
- For employability in the global economy
- For living cooperatively in multicultural communities
- To communicate and learn effectively and responsibly with old and new media
- For achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
Interestingly, global competency is now being included in the PISA test which assesses 15 year olds worldwide every 3 years.
There are many ways that global competency can be achieved, as demonstrated in the report. Having a culture where students and teachers can regularly connect with others around the world is a great start. Blogging, along with other collaborative technology like Skype, Flipgrid, Google Docs and so on, can make connecting easy!
How to Get Started with Global Collaboration
I recently published an extensive guide on The Edublogger that outlines a three step process to bringing global collaboration into your classroom.
I proposed three different entry points which I walk you through in the post. Check it out!
Tips for Forming Friendships with Blogging Classes in Other Countries
One of the biggest obstacles can be forming those friendships with other classes who blog and want to connect. While there can be some luck involved, just like there is luck in meeting people in real life, these tips might help!
- Visit Edublogs compilation of class blogs from around the world and add your blog to the list (Note: You can be using any blogging platform).
- Join the Student Blogging Challenge which Sue Wyatt runs twice a year. It’s a great way to learn about blogging while connecting with other classes from around the world.
- Work on building your own professional learning network or PLN. This is a must! Twitter is a great meeting place for teachers who want their classes to connect. (Tip: Learn more about building a PLN with this Teacher Challenge).
- Show a genuine interest in blogs you start commenting on and work on being an active member of the blogging community.
- Consider finding bloggers that are at a similar stage to you. More experienced bloggers can be great role models but they might have many established connections already. Perhaps ‘learning together’ with a class at a similar stage will be of benefit to both of you.
- Hunt for like-minded educators. The teachers I have bonded most with are those who have classes around the same age group, who have a regular online presence, and who share similar teaching philosophies and standards.
- Keep blogging relationships student centred. While I enjoy collaborating with other teachers, our core business is the students. Help students to get to know their blogging buddies, develop their relationships, and extend their learning.
- Start small by getting into the routine of commenting on your new buddies’ blogs before delving into more structured collaboration or projects.
- Encourage parents to be part of your blogging community and comment on your buddies’ blogs or attend Skype sessions. Blogging is something your whole school community can be a part of!
- Rush into finding blogging buddies before you establish your class blog. It can be beneficial to ensure your students know the basics of blogging such as safety, etiquette, and quality commenting before embarking on collaborative ventures (Note: You may be able to do both at the same time with the Student Blogging Challenge).
- Don’t visit a large number of random blogs and leave a comment that simply says “please visit my blog”. Like all friendships, blogging relationships require give and take, and develop from genuine interest.
- Introduce your students to too many different blogs at once. In my early days of global collaboration, I tried to have my students comment on and keep up with dozens of different blogs which only resulted in confusion for all of us.
- Forget to think about other connections that are out there. Maybe one of your students has relatives overseas? Perhaps a colleague has worked at a school abroad? Maybe a family travels overseas and has connections you could work with. Look into the opportunities available with resources like Skype in the Classroom where you can invite an expert to connect with your class.
- Give up — if you have trouble finding a suitable class to connect with or have difficulty finding time to develop relationships, keep trying! It’s worth it.
It can take a little bit of work initially to find those great connections but once you do, you never know where they could take you. Your relationship with a fellow educator might span over many cohorts of students.
It’s been over nine years since I first connected with Linda Yollis and just last week she skyped my class who are currently working on a project with her students.
The world truly is at our fingertips now. Have fun exploring it with your students!
What are your tips for forming friendships with other blogging classes?