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VARtek Blog

Breaking Down School Walls: Connecting Globally

Posted by Michael Hosford
Michael Hosford
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on Friday, May 25, 2012 in K-12 General Interest


Are you looking for ways to connect your students to the world around them?  Today it is easier than ever to break down the walls of your classroom and connect your students with others around the world.  There are several sites that are safe and specifically designed for educators looking to connect around the world.


The first is ePals.  This site is a variation on the classic idea of having a pen pal.  However, instead of waiting for “snail mail” from your friend across the globe, now students can connect through email.

Teachers create an account in ePals and can start in a variety of ways to connect to other classes.  You can search for teachers to work with in specific countries or regions as well as by age level.  You can look through posts from teachers looking to connect or even create your own post and wait for responses.  ePals also has different projects that classes can work on together as they collaborate.  These projects range from science topics like global warming and habitats to social studies and learning about different cultures.  You can even have students work on a cyber bullying project.

After teachers make their connection with other teachers that they are willing to team up with then the students can get involved.  You will need to get parent permission first, but once you’ve done that you will set up an account for your students.  Next, you and your collaborating teacher will need to match your students together.  Each student is given a “Monitored Mail” account that they use to contact their ePal.  Teachers can adjust the filter settings as they’d like.  Teachers can manually approve each message that goes in and out of their students mail account or they can have no filter.

Once students make their initial contact with their ePal it is good to communicate regularly and come up with good activities to work on.  You can use some of the projects that are listed on ePals or create your own.

Skype in the Classroom

Another way to connect your classroom is through Skype.  Most of us know Skype as a way to video chat with friends and family that may live hours away, but now there is more to it.  Skype in the Classroom is a site dedicated to helping teachers find others in education that want to use Skype to connect.

To start out you need to have a Skype account in order to log in.  It’s easy to create an account if you don’t already have one, and it’s free.

Once you sign in you will add some details about yourself and what you’re looking to do on Skype.  This will be important because other people will be able to read your profile and possibly connect with you.  After you’ve made your profile you’ll be able to start searching for someone to connect with.  You can search by different subjects and topics as well as languages, age range, and even specific countries.  If you have a certain book or subject in mind that you’d like to collaborate on you can do a keyword search too.

After you’ve found someone that has similar interests as you and your class you can add them as a Skype contact or send them a message to connect with them.  Finally it’s up to you and this new found connection to work out days, times, topics, activities, etc. but you’ll soon be opening your classroom up to the world around you.

Here are some other resources for connecting your classroom with others around the world:

My Wonderful World

50 Ways to use Skype in the Classroom

Skype an Author

Classroom Connection

The world of education has changed. It’s time that, as teachers, we break down the walls of our classrooms and help students experience the the world around them.



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