As part of the GSA Virtual Education Conference series, educators are invited to join a 2-hour online conference filled with international education insights, sharing of best practice and guidance for colleagues. This month’s topic was Global Links using Digital Resources and we invited a selection of experts to share their inspirational projects and partnerships, with digital tools to support them.
Our speakers included:
Sharon Toner-Saunders, Lecturer in Technologies-ICT and Music in the School of Education at the University of Dundee, Scotland (UK)
Janice Morran, International Lead Teacher at Bellahouston Academy, Glasgow (UK)
Patrick Carroll, Assistant Headteacher, Shaw Wood Academy, Doncaster (UK)
Alicha Ben Slimen, Computer Science Teacher at Ibn Sina High School, Kebili (Tunisia)
Stewart Cook, Assistant Headteacher, Frances Olive Anderson Primary School, Lincolnshire (UK)
“I love the fact that through collaborative learning we open up the eyes of our children, we challenge stereotypes and through technology, we bring ourselves closer together.”
Paddy started his presentation by introducing a simple project ‘View from my Window’ that is based on the book ‘Window by Jeannie Baker’ and started by asking the students what do you think it would look like from a window in Australia, for example.
Just sharing simple photographs sparked discussions between students to compare environments, lifestyles and cultures.
Paddy highlighted the Global School Alliance as the perfect platform for setting up a project like this.
“An important aspect for a global education for me is the transformational experiences it provides for the young people I’m working with, but also for staff who get involved with me too. For me working in secondary settings, it’s really about building the soft skills that work towards further education, higher education and employment that are really important.”
Speaking on staff engagement, Janice encourages colleagues to “look at bits of their curriculum that they could bring alive by adding global dimensions to it.”
To find project partners, Janice uses platforms they can trust like Connecting Classrooms and the Global School Alliance to quickly build up a network of colleagues. During this process, Janice has discovered that it is the people who get involved have got something in common – “they’re open-minded, personable and an inspiring group of people.”
Aicha Ben Slimen
Aicha has been recognised by the likes of Microsoft and eTwinning for her outstanding contributions to support global education using innovative digital solutions. Using online tools, Aicha how demonstrated how she has evidenced the school’s international work as part of their efforts to attain the International School Award.
As a small school in rural Lincolnshire, the majority of students haven’t left the local area and don’t have links with any other cultures. That’s until Stewart and his school developed a partnership with a school in Beirut 10 years ago, providing an opportunity to address cultural stereotypes with students.
Stewart described the initial challenges of sending physical letters to the partner school, which was disengaging for students who lost interest if they didn’t hear back quickly. That’s until they went digital, where students can get ‘instant feedback where they can share work daily.’
Stewart explains that “without the project and our partner school in Lebanon, the children would not have that window into another culture and it would be very isolating.”
As part of Sharon’s role at the University of Dundee, she has the pleasure of preparing “our next generation of teachers to have intercultural learning, social justice and diversity and look at it through creative ways.”
After attending an eTwinning conference in Estonia, Sharon noticed the majority of people spoke English and not their native language. It was then that Sharon decided to do a project on linguist identities called Voices of the World and then the Hands of the World.