Online "global classrooms" empower educators to leverage the power of social networking to create curriculum that is more interdisciplinary, more effective, and more relevant to students’ lives. An effective online global classroom brings students from diverse geographic, cultural, and economic backgrounds together to share information, resources, and experiences, preparing them to become effective, compassionate leaders in adulthood. The global classroom represents the future of learning—and the future is now!
This article offers a nuts-and-bolts guide for developing a global classroom, using TakingITGlobal’s "virtual classroom" platform as a model. It begins by describing TakingITGlobal for Educators, or TIGed, and how it works; it then offers a step-by-step guide for educators who want to establish or modify their own online global classrooms.
TIGed (www.tiged.org) is an international community of globally minded educators, a database of global education resources, and a suite of online classrooms designed especially for teachers. Currently, the TIGed community comprises more than 2,500 teachers at more than 1,000 schools in 71 countries.
TIGed was established by TakingITGlobal.org (TIG), an online global education and leadership site for youth with more than 4 million users and a membership of more than 225,000 individuals from 200 countries. Using TIG, individual young leaders can create groups and projects, blog, share resources, participate in projects with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and other partners, learn about events and opportunities, engage in public policy processes, and more. TIG’s success comes in part from the fact that its tools were built by youth (the majority of TIG’s staff members are recent university graduates who are younger than 30) and are user-friendly across many platforms.
In developing TIGed, educators were consulted in order to adapt TIG’s social networking and collaboration tools within a teacher-moderated online learning environment. TIGed is a user-friendly, Web 2.0 platform, with the kinds of project-based learning initiatives and practical tools that teachers can use. It is the recipient of several awards, including the Tech Museum Award for Technology Benefitting Humanity in the education category.
Since 2006, TIG has learned a lot about what teachers want, what students need, and how to build sustainable global classroom projects. Much of this learning has come from teachers, students, and curriculum developers who have shared their experiences. This feedback has helped in understanding the diversity of technology infrastructure in schools and the core educational issues facing teachers.
How TIGed Works
Using TIGed, teachers can create virtual classrooms with the student safety and learning management features they need. Teachers choose which tools to integrate into their virtual classrooms based on what is most appropriate for their students, learning objectives, and projects. Available tools include blogs, podcasts, maps, digital-image galleries, interactive discussion boards, live video chat, guest speaker access, online file space, and more. Bookmarks can be imported from TIG or the social bookmarking tool Delicious directly into TIGed classrooms. A class-videos feature enables teachers to feed YouTube, TeacherTube, or other online video service accounts into their classrooms.
TIGed is both a toolset and a curricular resource. TIG often works with partners in a number of specialized areas to create online curriculum that takes an interdisciplinary, interactive approach to current world events. TIGed offers several "thematic classrooms"—multilesson, multimedia teacher toolkits developed in partnership with other organizations to provide innovative ways of learning about specific global issues. Educators can opt to adopt the curriculum or simply join TIGed and use the online classroom tools to build their own projects and course plans that fit the needs of their classrooms.
By becoming part of the TIGed community, TIGed teachers can also share their ideas and experiences, comment on best practices, connect with global educators around the world, and receive online tech support.
Going Global in Five Easy Steps
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