Collaboration | News

Connect All Schools Pushes American Students To Go Global

A national project to connect American students with their counterparts in other parts of the world has drawn dozens of consortium partners into the fold.

The Connect All Schools Initiative launched in New York in mid-March with representatives on hand from the United States Department of Education and Department of State. Project participants include the AFS-USA, ePals, iEARN USA, and Teachers Without Borders, among many others helping to promote the goal of connecting all U.S. schools with international communities by the year 2016.

The project is fairly simple in its current state. It consists of a Web site where visitors can register to share stories about how their schools are making international connections or read what others are doing. Posts can include text, photos, and videos. Activities described include student and teacher exchanges, global issues curricula, video conferences, and other collaborative efforts, many done through the services offered by the consortium members. At the time of this writing, the site had 191 stories from 167 schools connecting with 102 countries.

"Despite the importance of global competency and engagement, U.S. teachers are not aware of the many options for introducing their students to global issues, world languages, online international interaction, and physical exchanges," said iEARN-USA Executive Director Ed Gragert. "By reading stories of what schools are already doing, additional teachers across the country can learn about specific examples and work with partner organizations to replicate the successes around the country."

"Imagine the possibilities for our students to learn WITH the world, instead of just about it," he added. "Research has clearly demonstrated that authentic interaction with the world's students across the curriculum results in enhanced learning, improved test scores, and a heightened motivation to learn."

Qatar Foundation International in Washington, D.C. provided start-up funding.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.