Tech in Education

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The ability to leverage collaborative technology tools to facilitate virtual student exchanges online can be both innovative and powerful. For students who do not have the means to experience the “other”, technology can provide a base to interact with people from different cultures around the world, as well as to learn firsthand about the world beyond their village or home region. Examples of successful collaborative programs include online writing/penpal exchanges, show and tell, book discussions, etc. See this link for more ideas: http://www.edutopia.org/international-exchange-online-collaboration-projects

There are plenty of free online tools developed by educators for educators. See an extensive list here: http://globalearlyed.wordpress.com/related-references/educational-technology/. While these are primarily in English, many can be adapted for other languages.

China states that it wants to internationalize its education system. It also portends to be more inclusive of its minority populations and bolster bilingual education. I wonder–is it a crazy idea to combine the two?  Internationalization can begin at home, within China’s own diversity. Domestic exchange programs would allow students to meet the unknown face to face and begin to build relationships. If physical exchanges are not possible, technology could be a lucrative first step. A fifth grade class in Qinghai Province could collaborate with another fifth grade class in Jiangsu Province. This is a link to a list of tips for creating and sustaining partnerships for international online learning: http://iearnusa.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/tips-for-building-and-maintaining-successful-online-partnerships-1/

Of course, this must all be sensitive to the fact that China maintains unique Internet controls and cultural views on the online world. A collaborative online exchange program, in this case, must be developed by the groups themselves to ensure it is sensitive to and meets their needs.

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