How to Connect your Classroom to the World?


How to Connect your Classroom to the World?

Learning that is restricted to the four walls of a classroom cannot prove to be very effective. There is a need to connect classrooms to the world outside to realize the true potential of learning and make it effective.

Classrooms should be connected to the world so that students can share ideas about what they are learning, take their ideas to a higher order of thinking and learn about the world outside their classroom. Connecting your students to the world has great educational potential. It helps them learn by making connections across geographic, socio-economic and cultural boundaries. It is a powerful way to encourage them to think beyond their own societal and cultural norms and consider the world from another perspective.

Extending the reach of a classroom by connecting it to the world is made easy with the help of technology. The Internet has revolutionized the way communication happens. With e-mail, social networks, video conferencing and more people can be more connected than ever before and so can classrooms. Here are ways in which teachers can connect their classrooms to the world:

  • Class Blogs: Blogs help connect students to each other and to the world. Blogging makes use of social media skills which students are adept with. It is a more comfortable medium for writing for students than many of the traditional ones. With the help of blogs, teachers can connect their students with people all over the world and bring diverse perspectives to the classroom to take student learning and experiences to the next level. One of the advantages of blogging is that the activity is open to outsiders who have the opportunity to contribute to the educational community online through the blog. A class blog or individual student blogs could be completely private and classroom-based, and only the teachers and students of a class can be its users and viewers. But, if you want to connect your classroom to the world to increase the scope of your students’ learning, you can make your class blog public so that anyone can access it online. The benefit of making a blog public is that it creates a broader sense of audience and of participating not only in the class or school community but a global community as well. With blogging teachers can make sure that the audience of their students’ work is not just restricted to themselves, the classmates and parents. Blogs provide a much larger audience for student work and an avenue for feedback and self-improvement through commenting. Blogging can help flatten the classroom walls and helps students develop a sense of understanding and learn a lot about the world in which they live.

  • Video Conferencing: A variety of video conferencing tools including Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime can be used to connect your classroom to an authentic global audience. They offer free video chat options and can turn classroom discussions global. Other people can connect with your classroom via video chat and give students a real interaction with someone they might not ever meet otherwise. Skype offers its Skype in the Classroom site, through which teachers can create requests to connect with other classrooms and with guest speakers. Personal requests for video chats to individuals work without the Skype in the Classroom channel. A new initiative on Google+ called Connected Classrooms has been launched that enables students around the world to take virtual field trips through Google+ Hangouts, visiting places they would otherwise never be able to explore. Connected Classrooms makes it easier for teachers to access exciting educational content to share with their students and teachers are already using it to make learning more relevant, collaborative and accessible. They can make their students explore the world from the classroom itself and in addition to the virtual field trips, teachers who visit the Connected Classrooms site will have the opportunity to join a Google+ Community with other educators to collaborate on field trips and share best practices for using digital tools in the classroom.

  • Twitter: It offers authentic school content from authors, scientists, historians, college professors, astronauts, poets and more. Using a class Twitter account or students’ own personal ones, they can ask questions and connect with subject experts around the world. Twitter is used worldwide and can also connect a classroom to a different culture. You can share what you are doing with your students daily, have your students tweet about their experiences and get parents involved. You can ask questions and have students tweet their answers with their parents for homework. You can also use it to tweet about upcoming events. It can also be a great way to teach students how to organize their thoughts and give specific but detailed answers. Using it as a communication tool, teachers and students from around the world can collaborate on projects, that helps simultaneously educate students in different classroom and cultural protocols.

  • Edmodo: Is a socially connected network that provides a safe environment for students, and can allow teachers and students to move beyond the limited physical classroom. It is a great platform for helping teachers build a community with students and their parents. Students can share their work with their classmates via small groups on Edmodo, and can also share with a larger audience and gain additional feedback by posting to the communities page on Edmodo. Students feel motivated with positive reinforcement from other teachers around the world and can comment on the feedback as well.

  • VoiceThread: Is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool that enables users to add images, documents, and videos, and to which other users can add voice, text, audio file, or video comments. You can use it to extend the classroom and to create engaging classroom discussions. You can upload a prompt, invite students to participate, and wait for the comments to come in. It is an easy tool that allows students to gather in cyberspace and interact with one another. The system is user-friendly and provides a plethora of how-to guides, sample threads, and a library of ideas from other educators and users. You can keep a VoiceThread private, share it with specific people, or open it up to the entire world.

Please share with us more ways of connecting a classroom to the world. The Comment Box is waiting.

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About the Author
Author: Saomya Saxena
Educational technology blogger, loves to research and write about tools and tips for educators on how to integrate technology into everyday instruction creatively and effectively. Fond of reading and writing.

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