Global collaboration

I see the workplaces of the 21st century have a flat environment, where members are thinking about outcomes and principles with an ever-changing set of variables, and they are expected to collaborate with peers and across disciplines. Being lifelong learners is a very important trait in this new world economy and schools must prepare students for this reality.

In his article ‘The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New’, Prakash Nair reminds us that we still tend to define “success” as students’ ability to perform well on a standardized test, rather than their developing skills to navigate a fast-changing world. He lists the education design principles for tomorrow’s schools.

Those are (1) personalized; (2) safe and secure; (3) inquiry-based; (4) student-directed; (5) collaborative; (6) interdisciplinary; (7) rigorous and hands-on; (8) embodying a culture of excellence and high expectations; (9) environmentally conscious; (10) offering strong connections to the local community and business; (11) globally networked; and (12) setting the stage for lifelong learning.

Those principles are not new for educators in the 21st century, however, how successfully we apply those to our schools. We might say, “successfully” to some and “unsuccessfully” to others. I realize the need of global collaboration project to develop student global competence by connecting to community locally, nationally, and globally, but I am not sure how to carry out the project along with global colleagues. It seems tough to complete successfully.

In her blog post, Kim Cofino gives a step-by-step guide to global collaborations. Those detailed lists are truly valuable not only for teachers who are willing to collaborate globally, but also for all the 21st century educators. Her contribution to the global learning community also deepens my understanding of connectivism.

Using the public services is also one way to carry out the projects successfully. There are various public services that offer place to collaborate globally; The Japan Forum (TJF) is one of them. TJF is a public interest incorporated foundation that established in 1987 under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan.

One of their websites, ‘Tsunagaaru’ offers Japanese language learners the opportunity for global collaborations. It is an interactive communication website and participants are secondary school students in Japan and other countries.

I assume that using those websites promote the connection among educators and students globally, and avoid unsuccessful collaboration.

5 thoughts on “Global collaboration

  1. Two ladies from ‘Tsunagaaru’ came to the school where I used to teach and explained to us about the website a few years ago. We played around a bit and introduced it to a class but it didn’t go further. Maybe we should re-try.

    There are two points to be aware of, I think. Many of the Japanese language teachers in North America prefer face-to-face connections and once you get to know each other then classroom exchanges start. I could be wrong but when you attend ACTFL convention or other small teachers’ workshops, you receive a few presentations based on the HS and College exchange or HS to HS exchanges where teachers are already acquaintances.

    Also for HS teachers unless the exchange is one of the effective preparations for the exams, such as AP or IB DP, interactive communication practice take places among students, and not with unknown native speakers of Japanese or other learners of Japanese language.

    For this reason, college expectations for the incoming language learners need to be revised.

  2. It’s kind of interesting that if you collaborate with a Japanese school, that would be such a rich experience for our international school students. I think that could have just as much value (if not more) as collaborating with a similar international school somewhere else in the world. Thanks for those resources.

  3. It does often feel like a big challenge to get started – especially when you don’t already have a partner classroom or teacher in mind. I love the idea of connecting with local schools, not just because they’re probably the most appropriate in a Japanese language classroom context, but because international schools and local schools are so different. As Rebekah mentions above, that kind of collaboration could actually be even more eye opening for our students than a global project with students in a similar school somewhere else in the world! Having said that, I know quite a few people that would like to collaborate with a Japanese class – so if you want to connect with teachers and students in another country, let me know :)

  4. Global collaboration is such an attractive concept, and an important one. As you mention, it does seem very tough to carry out successfully. Do you have a plan to do it in your class next year? Will you collaborate with Joy to do one? I am interested in trying for my grade 5 guidance classes, but a bit scared about
    connecting with someone I don’t know personally. As Machiko mentions in her comment, it is a lot easier for teachers to connect with others they know already. I think I am willing to get out of my comfort zone if it means students will see the power of global collaboration at a young age.

    At the same time, I see the need for improvement for international schools to connect with local schools. Does your school have an exchange program with a local Japanese school? We have one in grades 4, 5 & 6, and these exchanges are experienced as an one day event, and not that meaningful. Using technology, we should be able to have an on going relationship with these local schools.

    Maybe starting locally is less daunting than connecting globally. I would love to hear your ideas about successful exchange programs by integrating technology.

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