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Global issues to support collaborative learning 

One of the most frequent questions from teachers is ‘What can we use as a topic to build a global collaboration?’ The answer is simple – anything! The ideas usually will come from your curricular and extracurricular needs. Finding the topic is not the real problem; the real problem is finding the like-minded partners and designing the collaboration for success!

When planning collaboration be clear as to whether you want students to have a simple cultural exchange or if you want them to dig deeper and share and collaborate on researching information and creating new knowledge together through ongoing collaboration. Problem solving, sharing research and even designing possible solutions to global issues are all possible motivations for a global collaboration. It does take a shared understanding amongst teachers and careful planning.

Topics for collaborative learning

Let's look at some possible themes and topics to help spark your collaboration. Exciting topics can come from global issues and events that impact areas of the world in different ways. Issues such as health care, education, environmental impact and digital access can spark a number of viable collaborations.

When choosing a theme or topic, use glocalisation – thinking global and acting local – as an effective strategy for global collaboration. Selecting a handful of global or local issues that impact each of the classrooms in the collaboration is a good start. Partners can share what is happening in their communities and together they can build a global picture of incident, need, and possible solutions.

Inspiration can come from something like this big data online tool – Global Pulse, the millennium goals or the World Sustainable Development Goals. These provide background and resources to kick start possible collaborations

Possible topics for global collaboration

Across subjects many opportunities exist to identify a topic for classroom collaboration for example:

  • Migration
  • Environmental concerns
  • Shared histories

Explore the following sites explore a range of existing projects that may assist you and your students to identify topics of shared interest.

E-Twinning

Flat Connections global projects

Investigate AEF curriculum pages to explore Asia focused learning and teaching resources 

Examples of global collaborations

Here are some examples of global collaboration and how this works in the classroom. Please note some examples shared here may not be currently active however they provide great ideas for future iterations! Some are also more to do with cultural interactions and may not achieve true collaboration, but are still excellent examples to learn from.

The ‘A Week in the Life...’ Project (Flat Connections)

A global project for upper elementary, middle school students with a focus on exploring global issues and forming teams to discuss and plan possible solutions. Students meet in Edmodo to discuss and prepare material. Voicethread and other tools are used to share collaborative multimedia and student comments about the issues.

The Global Youth Debates Project (Flat Connections)

Students learn more about the world through exploring global issues and formal debating in an online synchronous format. The goal is ‘debate into action’ where through researched and ongoing debates students learn with others in the world of local issues that are impacted by global events and thereby plan to act. Debates are recorded using Voicethread, global judges provide feedback.

Connect with China

Connect with China Learning Collaborative (Flat Connections)
This new global collaboration for 2015 will support connections and collaboration between China and other countries with a focus on language acquisition. The theme for the pilot is ‘My disposable life’.

Flick-it-on

A collaborative film-making project with some interesting twists. Looks like fun and builds skills in creating and sharing multimedia.

The complete international cookbook (access through the Global Classroom Project website)

A fun collaboration aimed at learning more about each culture and includes student’s online discussions about food and family traditions.

Looking for more inspiration? Consider browsing these blog posts and connecting with teachers who have designed global collaborations.

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