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3 Benefits of Connecting Beyond Classroom Walls

Photo: Courtesy of Adam Birkett

Susan Meyer

Communications Specialist, Texas Computer Education Association

Educators can harness the power of increased connectivity and use it to engage students and enhance curriculum. These global connections foster important life skills like collaboration, community building and creativity.

1. Collaboration

Inside the classroom, students learn the importance of communicating with their classmates to meet shared goals. By connecting to classrooms around the world through video chats or asynchronous emails or video messages, students can learn about the additional collaborative rewards and challenges that come from working with students far away. They learn how to overcome language, cultural and scheduling barriers, and create collaborative bridges to students in other cultures. These are essential skills for students to have when entering an increasingly globalized workplace.

2. Community building

Through increased connectivity, students will also learn what life is like for their peers around the world. This can help them develop greater empathy and a sense of the interconnectedness of the global community around them. Global empathy helps students understand and respect points of view different from their own. It can also help them get a well-rounded understanding of history. For example, students can connect to classrooms in South Africa and learn how the country has changed in the decades since apartheid ended, or they can talk to classrooms in Russia to understand how events like the Cold War are taught from a different perspective.

3. Creativity

Connecting to and learning about students from other backgrounds can also help inspire students’ creativity. In the process of overcoming language barriers, they can develop inventive ways to communicate including through songs, images and games.

Fifth graders at Oak Grove Elementary School in Roanoke, Virginia, school were even able to create solar-powered 3D printed flashlights together with students in Honduras and Nicaragua through the Level Up Village STEAM (STEM + arts) course “Global Inventors.” The students learned about electricity and the engineering design cycle and worked one one on with their global partners to design a prototype for the light by building on their collective ideas and innovations. 

Gone are the days of pen pals with long wait times. In today’s classrooms with ever-improving technology, students can collaborate with teammates globally, help build an empathetic and connected global community, and problem-solve creative communication solutions.

Susan Meyer, Communications Specialist, Texas Computer Education Association, [email protected]

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