Going global with learning projects and finding the right tool to help

An educator waves at a classroom through an on-screen Skype video call.

After more than 11 years of experience, my concept of teaching has changed a lot. When I started in education, I thought teaching meant providing knowledge from textbooks to students. But thanks to working with fellow Microsoft Innovative Educators, I am energized to do more than provide knowledge. Now I want to inspire learning and future-ready skills, right here from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

A photograph of Nam Ngo Thanh, an MIE Fellow and Microsoft Teacher Ambassador in Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamDigital collaboration and co-creation is a must-have skill in today’s global economy. To this end, I participate in many projects with other educators around the globe and help develop 21st Century skills for students. These projects include: We are Little Volunteers, Wai Water, Human Differences, Women in History on Tour, Five Safe Fingers and many more started by fellow Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.  Technology plays a key role in breaking common barriers to global collaboration, such as language, distance, and resources.

Picking the right technology for global learning projects

 

Schools looking to work together across the globe will find no shortage of technology support, especially if they look to Microsoft tools. Technology has helped us to work together anytime, anywhere.

OneNote

 

A screenshot of OneNote displaying various project components.

This great tool has helped create a unique space in which participating teachers can work together quickly. OneNote supports storing, setting up and sharing a variety of information through one source, while being accessible from virtually any device. During the We are Little Volunteers project, I assigned tasks and shared the central digital notebook with participating educators. We easily tracked the progress and planned for next steps. Students also had their own sections for mutual communication in the form of videos, presentations and brochures. Students could even offer help in their own spaces through OneNote.

A screenshot of OneNote displaying various project components.

Office Mix

 

While crafting a project on teaching Vietnamese to students from other countries, my own students used Office Mix to create e-learning lessons. Office Mix combines with other tools easily. For example, when doing My Favourite Animals project, we combined Office Mix with Lifeliqe to create wonderful presentations.

Sway

 

Presentation made in Sway can provide a vivid combination of sound and image. Students, even first-graders, take advantage of Sway‘s ease of use to create animated presentations with pictures, videos, etc. Sway is also a great way to store projects. In the project, I embedded all of my student work in one making it a central point containing all material from their projects. With collaboration mode, students can work together on a single project no matter where they are located.

Minecraft

 

Students already love Minecraft, but applying this game to projects is something new to my classroom. Inspired by from Brazil, Minecraft has been included in the Five Safe Fingers project aims to provide children with basic skills in preventing child abuse. Each country constructs an in-game object that refers to the central theme, after which groups share and analyze creations from other students and leave comments via OneNote. Finally, the participants make personal reports describing their new insights into human differences and connections.

A screenshot of the 5 Safe Finger Rules project in Minecraft.

Skype

 

Video conferencing is a key tool in many global projects. Skype breaks the limits of the four walls in the traditional classroom. Want to give it a try? Just click on Request Mystery Skype on the Microsoft Educator Community site and send me a connection request. In class, students use Skype to connect to guest speakers to hear lessons and ask questions. Toward the end of a unit or project, students use Skype to connect with other classes to share what they have learned. Through sharing, they gain new perspectives, as well as pride in presenting their own work.

Students from across the world communicating through Skype.

Microsoft Forms

 

I often use Microsoft Forms to get quick feedback and collect information during a project, and Microsoft Forms is the right choice. Students can also export the quiz results to a Microsoft Excel sheet for more in-depth analysis later.

I hope this list inspires you to find the right tool for the projects in your classroom, no matter where it might be.