New technologies and social media are very popular with students nowadays, so educators should take advantage of this advancement and use it to engage their students and allow for communication and collaboration with peers around the world.
Participation in collaborative projects with classrooms from other countries can have many advantages and help students develop some of the 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation. It can also broaden their horizons as they get in touch with students from different cultures and they are able to share their experiences with them.
There are, however, some things you need to consider in order to participate in a successful project actively or even design it yourself.
1. There must be a clear timetable with carefully designed activities and deadlines.
2. Clear instructions for the activities should be given and other parametres should be defined such as
“Is it an individual or a team activity?”
“Should it be done at home or at school?”
“Is the use of technology for each activity optional or necessary? If it is necessary, do all students have access to a computer or the Internet?”
3. Clear directions should be given for the use of web tools or other web based resources as to how to use them
4. There must be some integration to the curriculum and clear learning objectives and expected results. There should also be reference to anticipated problems and possible ways of handling them.
5. The way of communication among the partners teachers or students may vary(e-mails, online platforms, social media etc.), it can be agreed beforehand, but it must be frequent for the best possible result. Moreover, it should be made clear whether it will be conducted one-by-one or in teams or among classes from different countries. In the latest case, for example a web-conference, there are some things upon consideration such as difference in time-zone, convenient class-time for all participants and technical problems that may be faced during the session.
6. It would be interesting to have a final product and see to its proper diffusion to the local community or the internet.
Apart from careful planning by the teachers, the hard work and the difficulties that may come up on the way, the whole experience is unique for the participants. The purpose for communication and creation is realistic and the process of foreign language learning becomes exciting and enjoyable for the students. The outcome is original and interesting, to say the least and makes both the students and the teachers proud of themselves.