Tuesday, November 1, 2011

6 Ways to Turn Your 1-Computer Classroom Into a Global Communication Center

In the 21st century, the connected classroom is no longer a privilege. It is a right. Fortunately, more and more school systems are bringing their students out of the past and into the present with a basic internet connection, laptop, and projector.  With the right building blocks in place, teachers will be positioned to transform their classrooms from disconnected spaces where learning happens in isolation to global communication centers.  Here are the building blocks for success that you should put in place for effective change.

8 building blocks for successful technology integration
To follow are the building blocks that school leaders and teachers must work together to provide for successful integration of technology into the classroom.
  1. Support teachers in using technology for professional purposes.
  2. Provide teachers with support for securing interactive digital content.
  3. Encourage teachers to partner with students to integrate technology into learning.
  4. School principal must lead by example.
  5. Embed technology integration into teacher and leader evaluation.
  6. Support student acquisition and use of technology in schools.
  7. Work with students to develop responsible use policies.
  8. Secure appropriate permissions from students and their parents.
As schools put these building blocks in place, they will be able to work to support real transformation.  Below are 6 ideas that teachers across the globe are implementing to transform learning in their classrooms.

1-Connect home - school 
  • Facebook
    • Students update status and parents can respond
    • Notes for class updates
    • Photos to capture student work
    • Videos to capture lessons and student presentations
    • Events to share upcoming activities 
  • Twitter
    • Embed live current event feed into class or school site
  • Blogs / Websites
    • Share lessons and student work
2-Connect students across the globe
  • Blogs / Websites
    • Comments for kids
    • QuadBlogs
    • Flat Classroom Project
    • Global Classroom Project
3-Connect students with experts
  • YouTube's new education site
    • Visit YouTube.com/education to learn about topics in a variety of content areas.
  • Khan Academy
    • Learn math from an internationally acclaimed math teacher.
  • MathTrain.TV
    • Learn math from other kids
  • Skype in the Classroom
    • Education.Skype.com is helping teachers connect with experts to help their students learn.
4-Connect with the World with Livestreaming
  • Use a tool like UStream to bring the world to your class and the class to your world.
    • Follow a livestream in the wild to bring remote places into your class and watch, rather than read about it in a book.
  • Stream your class science experiment to the world and connect with other classes who are doing the same thing.  
    • Stream chicks hatching over the weekend or a break.
  • Act out historical figures from your culture via UStream
    • Invite other classes to watch and do the same with historical figures from their culture.
  • Stream book reviews
    • Share the book report live or via video with parents and other students reading the book.
  • Learn from teachers 
    • What do you want to learn? Stream in a teacher from anywhere in the world and provide a lesson.
  • Have students stream presentations
    • Contact those who can make up a real audience and invite them to watch.
  • Invite learners to be teachers
    • Let your students create a show or create a lesson to teach others something they're good at.
5-Connect with the World using Twitter
  • Know how to use hashtags to connect with others who share your passions and interests.
  • Use Paper.li to collect your tweets.
  • Use Twitter Fountain to review and share tweets and images about you, your class, or a topic of interest.
  • One tweet can connect you with others across the globe
6-Connect with Those Who Don'ts Speak Your Language with Translation Tools
  • Google translate lets you speak or type to translate and it will provide text or voice to allow anyone to communicate with other language speakers using their preferred method.
  • Use translation tools to convert your blog to another language.
  • Google Chrome will automatically identify and translate websites. 
  • Translate historical or current events in Wikipedia to see views from the perspective of those who speak another language.
More than a decade in to the 21st century and school life needs to match the real world we are preparing students for. Real world success requires connected classrooms and global learners who have the world at their fingertips and know how to connect, communicate, collaborate, and connect with their neighbors around the world. 

You can use the following presentation to help get others on board. 


  1. This is truly Amazing and extremely Helpful!!! Thanks for giving us the tools to increase technology tools in our classrooms. Love the Prezi, especially is translated into Spanish. I am a foreign language teacher of Spanish this will definitely enhance my students abilities in technology via a new language!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this blog entry and think you made many good points! It really is amazing what we, as teachers can do with just a laptop and the internet. I am currently teaching in a small, K-5 private school that is not very updated on technology. I brought this article into the teacher's lounge and everyone else enjoyed reading it as well. We have already talked about ways to use your ideas as a school, and also individually as a class. There is not excuse not to use technology in the classrooms, especially when all you need is a laptop and the internet!

  3. Excellent ideas about effective use of technology ... however also need to ensure maintaining interest of students and ensuring "learning" ... check out what a young undergrad student at ASU is saying and doing ..."Stop sleeping over Astronomy Textbooks and Start Learning from the Stars" ...


  4. Luz Minaya: I love these tools too. You might like the tools and video tutorials at http://languagesalive.wikispaces.com. The site is focused solely on free web 2.0 tools for world language teachers.

  5. Thank you for this post! I could not agree more that “real world success requires connected classrooms and global learners who have the world at their fingertips and know how to connect, communicate, collaborate, and connect with their neighbors around the world.” I teach in an urban, underprivileged school district that truly lacks in technology resources to further student learning. So many teachers complain that they “just don’t have the resources” to integrate technology effectively. This blog is a testament to the fact that it is not difficult to bring our students “out of the past and into the present” with the basic tools that we already have like an internet connection, a laptop, and a projector. It is refreshing to see all the ways I can expose my students to technology and connect my students with real-world knowledge with the basic tools that already exist in my classroom.

    I am happy to note that I have already implemented some of the suggestions mentioned. My class adopted a “virtual pet” via Ustream, and I frequently use Skype to connect my learners with other classrooms and educational experts. What I have never done is bring social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger into the classroom. I am already using these sites for personal use, and I know my students their parents are too. What a great idea to utilize these free sites as education resources in the classroom! (Unfortunately, my district blocks access to all social media sites…but I am sure I could find a way around this.)

    Thank you for your suggestions on how to connect to those students and families with limited English proficiency, using translation tools. My school has a great Hispanic population and it would be very helpful to use the translation tools you have mentioned to convert blogs or newsletters into Spanish. I was not aware that Google Chrome will automatically identify and translate websites. This is another helpful resource for linguistically diverse students.

    If I may suggest an additional way to implement technology to transform learning in the classroom, I’d like to encourage the use of “Flickr” or the ever popular “Pinterest” to create, publish, and use images online. Digital photography is so simple these days that my elementary students are able to take quality photographs. Digital cameras are also relatively inexpensive, many people own one already, and most cell phones even have the capability to take great photos too. Recently, a learning center in my kindergarten classroom was called “Shape Detectives”. I provided students with magnifying glasses, a clipboard with paper, pencils, and a digital camera. In this activity, students were asked to walk around the classroom as they investigated the shapes all around us. This collaborative group had to list five shapes that they discovered in our classroom and record them onto the clipboard. Then, using the digital camera, they took a picture of each shape that they found. I then compiled the students’ photos into a slideshow using Flickr and presented it to the whole class. They were delighted to see their photos in the slideshow and this task allowed my students to demonstrate their understanding of key geometric learning objectives while developing 21st-century skills.

    It is important to me as an early childhood educator to incorporate technology in my classroom. I enjoyed reading your posting, and I plan to use the technology-focused knowledge, strategies, and skills I am learning from your blog space to create a more effective, inspiring, and technologically-advanced learning environment for my students.