Building Community Through Distance Learning

It’s more than just virtual field trips!

As we all strive to create model 21st Century Classrooms conducive to learning in a digital age, more and more teachers are turning to distance learning models for a variety of lessons and activities.  Living in a college town with a great teacher ed program, I have the pleasure of getting to know many future educators as well as new teachers which helps me stay in tune with the latest and greatest tools being used in the classroom.  Remember when pen pals were all the rage?  We have most certainly made progress as now students can be seen chatting or skyping with students, authors, and businesses around the world in real-time.  What better content area to integrate this into than social studies education?  Imagine the new knowledge students could gain while interacting with others around the globe on a collaborative project.  Perhaps the task at hand is in relation to a geography unit, but along the way your students are exposed to the cultural differences, religious practices, and history of others.  What better way to teach tolerance than to have young people interact with other cultures in an educational setting.  In addition to this, many authors are now willing to video-conference with students who are reading their work.  Historical sites provide live tours and ?performances for those living too far away to visit in-person.  For observational web cams, I love the site EarthCam.  It is free, and students can view and listen to sights and sounds from places around the world as well as here in the US.  Take a quick trip to Times Square or peak in at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi!

What experiences with distance learning and collaboration have you provided your students? 

Capture the hearts of the digital natives in your classroom.

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