Virtual exchange is more than a video conference call; it is a rich learning opportunity. Learn about the platforms and pedagogies behind these meaningful cross-cultural experiences for youth
Key Questions and Comments:
- (06:16) We’ve found [virtual exchange] to be an incredibly enriching way to go beyond the walls of the classroom. Not all of our kids have a chance to travel abroad; but they can certainly travel through the wonderful technology that we have and meet with other students.
- (09:14) Could you comment on how you see virtual exchange as different than just having kids be on a video chat?
- (12:08) We fully encourage and appreciate if our students talk about the current political events or academic theories, but that should always be coupled with reflection and critical analysis of where those perspectives & views come from.
- (14:35) The conversations are so rich and so rewarding…these kinds of conversations prompt our kids to go the extra mile, to do a little extra research…I think it just promoted a whole different level of learning when they’re being challenged by peers from another part of the world.
- (16:45) What do you think are some effective strategies for facilitating these kinds of virtual exchanges?
- (19:30) It’s really important that the facilitator follows the group lead and lets them talk about what is relevant for that particular group, for those particular young people.
- (21:40) I’m wondering if any of you can comment on other core curricular areas you think can be supplemented or enhanced through virtual exchange?
- (24:45) A lot of [our work] has been around the idea of these global competencies and 21st-century skills…that, in terms of framing the conversation, provides a nice linkage to an area in the curriculum, which is often difficult to nail down.
- (28:46) What kind of training time is needed, and how much hands-on experience is needed to train student moderators?
- (31:12) Something else that we’re working on is how do we prepare teachers to sit down with their students, one-on-one, and prepare them to facilitate…And being a phenomenal classroom teacher doesn’t necessarily make you a phenomenal facilitator–they’re very different skills–and vice-versa.
- (33:48) One really valuable component that we’ve been lucky to be able to do is reflecting afterward. And I think immediately afterward is good…I think we’ve learned a lot in those reflective meetings after the exchanges.
- (34:34) One of the questions we’ve had is this issue of language in virtual exchange, and how you’ve dealt with it when you’re putting groups together that are speaking different languages? Are there different strategies for handling that?
- (35:57) We use consecutive translation: they listen to their language, then the other language, then they get the answer, then it’s translated back…The students really learn patience and they learn to pick up on cues and other body language.
- (38:45) Opportunities for language learning exists within that space as well: informal language learning between students in classrooms.
- (42:35) A lot of the schools outside the U.S. that we work with see this as a really amazing opportunity to offer English as a second language: authentic learning experiences talking to native speakers.
- (45:58) [Virtual exchange] gives some students, who are not prone to speaking in public, a voice as well. It’s another avenue to allow them to contribute.
- (47:31) American kids think, “Oh, well I can write a blog, I can write a letter to my Senator…but why should I care?” And seeing and interacting and developing a relationship with students in Afghanistan and seeing them not take for granted being a sophomore in high school makes them look at themselves differently.
- (50:14) The biggest success, regardless of the end product, is…breaking down the barriers and these preconceived notions about one another.
- (51:00) What do you think have been some of the best platforms you can use, and ways of engaging kids? Are there different strategies for that?
- (54:50) As amazing and powerful as the technology is, for me, that’s still just a tool. It’s what you do with that tool that can really be life-changing and impactful for different audiences around the world.
From this Series:
View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtag #connectedlearning.
Guests for this webinar included:
- Charlotte Cole – Executive Director of the nonprofit Blue Butterfly Collaborative
- Hannah Weitzer – Program Manager at Global Nomads Group
- Gayle Hartigan – Computer Resource Specialist at Tallwood High School
- Chris Dubia – Artist, educationalist, environmental activist and innovator
- Katja Riikonen – Senior Officer of Training and Facilitation at Soliya
Resources for this webinar: