I’m no doubt showing my age here, but when I was at school the idea of partnering with a school somewhere else in the world typically took on a penpal type arrangement. You might send messages back and forth, usually by letter (which really dates me!), and if you were really lucky there might be a trip to see your overseas friends.
Of course we live in a different age now. Social tools are making it easier than ever before to collaborate virtually with people in distant locations. Corporations have been quick to pick up on the possibilities of this, but what about schools?
Projects such as the Flat Classroom Project point the way to the future. One of the main goals of the project is to remove the walls of the classroom and use social media tools to connect classes up with one another and work on projects collaboratively.
Quadblogging is another similar project. It borrows from the penpal relationships of old but brings it very much into the 21st century. The project uses blogs to team four schools together on each project. Each school is required to become active participants in the other schools blogs, and through this gain deeper insight into their own projects.
If you assume that a part of the education process is to prepare children for the world of work, then showing them the professional uses for such collaborative technologies can only be a positive thing. Millenials are already well versed in using social tools for personal purposes, but projects such as these give them a strong idea of how they can be used professionally too.
The growth in collaborative learning projects such as these, together with the enormous surge in MOOC popularity show the massive demand for interactive and participative learning around the world.
So often social media discussions get bogged down in the minutiae of how to run campaigns on social networks. Projects such as these show the vast array of other uses it can be put to.
These projects prepare students for their futures and engage them as global citizens. By enabling students to interact and collaborate with partners in other countries, they help students develop the digital citizenship and global competence they need to be successful in an increasingly interconnected world.