3 Great Websites that Empower Kids to Collaborate with Peers around the World
For kids to thrive in today’s world, they need a lot more than reading, writing and math skills. In the ‘information age’ that we live in, kids must know how to be citizens of the world, with multi-cultural awareness, familiarity with technology, collaboration skills and an understanding of global issues. However, actually teaching all of this is not so simple. Here are a few great websites that provide teachers and students with the resources they need to collaborate with peers around the world and address global issues. Educational games to raise awareness on major issues, joint projects with partner schools from other countries, e-courses that impart leadership skills – they cover it all!
This is an incredible website that is dedicated to fostering 21st century skills and improving academic performance among students through collaboration. Among its objectives, Global SchoolNet cites preparing kids for the workforce, increasing multicultural awareness and preparing youth for full participation as productive and compassionate citizens in a global economy. So how does the website work towards its objectives? Global SchoolNet offers four main services:
- Project Registry – This is where teachers around the world can start a global learning project or enrol their class in a project started by someone else. The registry is simple to understand and easy to use, with search options that allow you to search for projects by date, age level, geographic location, collaboration type, technology tools or keyword. Projects typically revolve around sharing location-specific details such as recording the seasonal changes in one’s area, documenting the types of architecture in one’s locality, or sharing information about local community helpers and how they dress.
- Online Expeditions – Students can join intrepid explorers on real-time expeditions as they journey through distant lands and make history or recreate it. By following daily progress, reading field dispatches and interacting with the explorers through e-mail, students learn a great deal about geography, foreign locations, exploration and much more.
- International Schools CyberFair – Students from across the world participate in a competition that revolves around conducting research and creating online content with information about one’s local community – its history, leaders, environment, culture or attractions. Entries are judged by student volunteers based on an evaluation rubric. Projects can also be used as educational resources for interested teachers.
- Doors to Diplomacy – This is another online competition similar to the CyberFair. However, it is for middle school and high school students, focuses on global issues and awards a $2,000 scholarship to the winners.
TakingITGlobal is a website that is committed to empowering youth with information and web tools to address global issues through networking and collaboration. Through the site, people can learn about the world’s major issues, share information and have conversations about them with like-minded individuals, and start movements towards tackling those issues. The services provided are categorized under five main headings:
- Community – This is where the youth can connect with other members, discuss the world’s issues and work towards earning ‘badges’ that represent their contributions in various areas.
- Action Tools – This is where members can act on the issues that concern them. TakingITGlobal provides ‘Action Guides’ which help individuals gain insight on what they can do and how they can go about achieving it. Individuals can commit to take action (such as reducing the amount of plastic one consumes) on various issues, start a petition, create an online platform for new initiatives, and take online courses that teach how to turn ideas into plans and actions.
- Resources – This is where members can learn more about important issues, access publications on global issues, change, collaboration and action, and search for organizations and/or work opportunities in areas that interest them.
- Youth Media – This is where youth can engage and connect through media they are most familiar with – blogs, videos, educational games and art.
- Global Issues – Links to pages that serve as an introduction to global issues in areas such as culture, education, environment, human rights and peace.
The website also offers a collaborative platform for schools to educate students and help them act on issues that they feel for.
This is another great website that connects students in schools around the world and promotes multi-cultural understanding through fun lessons, partnerships and joint projects. The website provides teachers with various ways to use their resources:
- Classroom Resources – This is a collection of fun resources that promote multi-cultural awareness and understanding. Teachers can use them in individual classroom settings. There are also several activity ideas that can only be done with a partner school. Topics range from cultural awareness to an understanding of global issues.
- Partner with a School – The website provides a platform for schools from various countries to partner with each other and work on joint projects. Teachers can find complete lesson plans under ‘classroom resources’, and use them to guide their activities with the partner school. For young kids, there are simple activities that serve as an introduction to new countries, such as exchanging ten items that represent the local culture and lifestyle. Older kids can collaborate on more complicated topics such as discussing farming, food and fair trade regulations specific to one’s location.
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.