By Sara Bernard
The Internet is crammed with collaborative projects for kids, from music-making to drawing, mashups to Wikis, “pen” pal partnerships to citizen science. Some sites are designed specifically for students and teachers to connect across oceans; some just work well for that. The good news is that while some sites charge fees, most of those offer free accounts to the education community.
Web 2.0 offers a whole new way to conceive of the “group project” (or classroom, for that matter). This particular list is hardly exhaustive — it’s more like the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg. But it could help get educators, parents, and students started on something fun — and, of course, educational.
Global SchoolNet – A veritable smorgasbord of education-focused collaborative projects from a decades-old nonprofit organization. Doors to Diplomacy, for instance, is an international competition that encourages middle and high school students to teach others about the value of international affairs by creating a collaborative, research-based website.
Global Education Collaborative – A resource for teachers interested in working with other teachers and students around the world, featuring discussion groups, project links, online conferences, and more. Inside the “Global Project Database,” you’ll find such topics as “Schools for Peace,” “Immigration: A World Perspective,” and “Second Grade Wild Animals Wiki.”
Global Gateway – A UK-based landing site for international educational collaboration. Schools around the world find other schools to partner with and the results are limitless. Under project themes like “languages,” “eco-schools,” and “fair trade,” a school can link with another school across the globe and learn new languages, share perspectives and activism on sustainability issues, or discuss fair (or unfair) trade policies with specific partner schools in Ghana, Trinidad, and Bangladesh.
The Flat Classroom Project – Maintained by high-tech teachers Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, this one offers professional development for educators as well as myriad ways to facilitate global collaborations, conversations, and contests. Projects include the NetGenEd Project, the Digiteen Project, and the Eracism Project, which was proposed by students at a Flat Classroom Conference in Qatar and uses tools like VoiceThread to encourage healthy debate among middle school students.
Kidlink Project Center – A place for students and teachers to join and design global collaborations — from a multicultural recipe book to self-reflection via descriptive drawings. The “Landmark Game” and the “Hunt for Country Capitals” are fun ways for students to learn about geography and culture by researching landmarks or capitals and then designing clues for other students (the team with the most correct guesses at the end of three weeks is the winner).