I would like to nominate United Classrooms, the new global K-12 education networking site that connects classrooms around the world, for the Edublog Awards’ Best Educational Use of a Social Network. This new and free tool opens the classroom walls to allow students to learn directly from the quickly globalizing and increasingly technological world that they will soon inherit. There is no other site where students can share their learning through pictures, videos and text in any language with an open and secure global network of classrooms.
On UClass students from over 40 countries are debating over candidates from recent elections, offering ideas for curbing conflict in the Middle East, asking thoughtful questions about one another’s holiday traditions and learning about Hurricane Sandy from the primary source of other kids. Parents are commenting that it has enriched their dinner table conversations and their children’s sense of possibility by helping their kids to feel connected to global issues. Teachers testify that it makes education in their classroom more relevant as they prepare their students for a future of encountering global perspectives and applying their learning to meaningful dialogues. Students are thrilled to use technology to connect with kids around the world, to have a place to be heard and to learn from the global constituency of their generation.
A third grade student in the Bronx has used UClass regularly since its inception. This student, who would otherwise interact with educational curriculum solely through the lenses of herself, her teacher and her classmates, is able to apply her learning to relevant global issues and collaborate with a diverse collection of students from around the world. When Hurricane Sandy recently affected her city, she went straight to UClass to share her story and was able to act as a primary source in responding to the concerns and questions of kids who experienced the storm only through the news. She was also able to reach out and gather information about the situation in harder-hit areas and jumpstart a giving campaign in her school community. This kind of connection and sense of responsibility for the global community is cultivated by student-led initiatives on UClass in response to things that are happening in the world.
A recent World Post prompted students to respond to the story of young Malala Yousufzai who was recently shot in Pakistan for her activism on girls’ education. Students from elementary and middle school classrooms around the globe expressed their thoughts and opinions about the issue of gender equal education while realizing differences in the rights offered to people around the world. In a conversation between a child from Texas and a child from North Carolina, conflicting perspectives were being waged respectfully until an agreement was reached about who was at fault for the discrepancy in education. Through literacy and communication practice anchored in current events, students are learning to interact across diverse settings while becoming oriented to the issues of their time.
Check it out @ UClass.org