Mr Kemp

Global Connections Makes Learning More Engaging

In the 21st Century Learning Environments we work in, our job as an educator is to support the learning journey of the digital natives in our care.
 
Digital natives (Generation Z / the students currently in our schools) are engaged more actively now than ever before, through the use of technology on handheld and personal devices. This natural instinct to utilise technology on every occasion to support their learning makes it essential that educators are up to speed with how and why students use their devices.
 
Making global connections through such networks as Skype for Education, Twitter and Google Hangouts help engage and connect learners with anyone, anywhere and anytime.
 
I think back to my ‘pen and paper’ education, where I learnt from a textbook and wonder how different I would be if I had the sorts of opportunities the digital natives are handed on a platter today.
 
Global connections are available around every corner for every situation and I truly believe that if you are not connecting your students globally, they are missing out!
 
The technology available now makes it easier than ever to connect with another classroom to ask questions, Skype with an expert or communicate with live online lessons to support in class learning.

The notion of a ‘Flipped Classroom’ allows further opportunities to engage with a community outside of the ‘bubble’ that some students find themselves in (especially in smaller communities).
 
People can no longer use the excuse that they don’t have a contact, or don’t have access to a particular learning field. Hop on Twitter and post a question, connect with Skype for Education or chat with your staff and parents. I can guarantee that you will find what you are looking for, or at least get close.
 
A perfect example of all this is happening as I write this within my school. The Year 3 students (8 year olds) are learning about Space and the students have come up with several questions that they would like to find answers for as part of their inquiry. They have decided to connect with people at NASA and any other experts that they could find. My role as Head of ICT and Learning Innovation is to support the classroom teacher in integrating digital technologies into the classroom. I have been supporting this class to get an astronaut and others connected with space from NASA to Skype in and help answer their questions.
 
We put the notion of finding an expert out through my Twitter account and within minutes we had potential connections. It was an eye opening experience for the students and teachers to understand how being globally connected helps learning opportunities.
 
Although we had to jump through several hoops to get the experts on Skype with us, the global connections and contacts made it possible. As a result the students are engaged in the topic and want to learn more. There are, I believe, two reasons for this:
  1. Student Voice – it is student driven and they are owning the entire experience
  2. It is integrating digital technologies and they get the opportunity to engage in conversation with experts outside of the bubble that is our learning environment (or even as an expat living in Singapore)
As a 21st century educator, you can no longer use the excuse of not having a connection, not knowing an expert, not being able to engage students through digital technologies. The ideas are available at your fingertips and support is provided in many different forms. Get out there and get connected. Become a globally connected educator so that your students can get the globally connected education that they are ready and waiting for:
 
Here are my tips and suggestions to become globally connected:
I can’t wait to hear your responses and see what you create and do. If you are on the journey of becoming a connected educator – let me in and let me guide you 🙂 Have fun with it and enjoy the experience.

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Head of Educational Technology at a large International School in Singapore. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This post is truly inspiring Craig – in advance I would like to ask your permission to reproduce this post as reading material for a mandatory postgrad credit on Integrating Tech in ELT I lecture. Looking forward to exchanging ideas on blogging, for starters. Cheers

  • Hi Craig – this is a wonderful and inspiring article. I will shortly be launching a site which is geared towards meeting this learning need. I would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss my idea with you and get your feedback and advice.

    I believe that the use of Skype and similar technologies to connect students and tutors around the world would have a positive impact on accelerating the education process.

    If this idea is also extended to show that not just teachers but the general public should share their knowledge and skills with students around the world, then it allows for an education model which I think is socially responsible and sustainable.

    Great post!

    Thanks,

    Pranav.

  • Excellent reflection Craig! I could not agree more! As i read through your post, I smiled as over the past 3 years I have taken the exact journey you are describing. Last year, I worked with a colleague, Mark Engstrom, I met through Skype in the Classroom and we created 4 global projects providing opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers in different countries and even continents. These global experiences have completely changed the way I view my role as an educator. Watching my students discuss global issues with peers across the globe has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a teacher. I would welcome your feedback on our projects: http://goo.gl/2lxC4z

    Laurie Clement

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