Social learning networks promote student engagement, global awareness

Try using educational networking platforms in your own classroom, especially in tandem with Skype. Perhaps the only thing that can hinder you will be your imagination.

I have used ePals to connect with students from Iceland down to southern France. We discussed language and volcanoes and haunting landscapes. We’ve shared candy and patriotic haikus. We’ve exchanged packages with schools in Singapore and spoken with people from the Youth Olympic Games about community responsibility. We’ve engaged experts from the Smithsonian as well as the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London. My students have discussed penguin adaptations with researchers at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. We’ve even worked with 2,000-year-old ancient Roman coins with a classroom in New York. Truly, the sky is the limit, and this is the way to go if you want to add a global dimension to your classroom experience.

The world truly comes into focus, and the students actually notice!

Troy Tenhet is a sixth grade teacher in central California. His students work on collaborative projects with peers and experts all over the world.

Other social learning networks

Gaggle Apps are online tools for students to communicate and collaborate in a safe, filtered, and controlled environment. Tools include eMail, digital lockers, discussion boards, chat rooms, blogs, assignment drop boxes, and more.

“This year, the Gaggle App will be used in iPad classrooms throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Students will be sharing devices, so having the ability to log in and out of eMail was a necessity,” said Instructional Technology Specialist Jenny Grabiec. “Student-created photo slide shows and movies can be uploaded easily from the camera roll and synced to the students’ digital lockers for easy viewing at home or on any school computer. One of my favorite features of the Gaggle app is ‘Mark it up,’ which allows teachers to review, grade and return assignments to students, saving paper and time in the process.”

eChalk offers a flexible framework and easy-to-use tools to meet the emerging needs of teachers and students. Through eChalk, schools can create and maintain school websites and class pages, help teachers apply safe social networking experiences to curriculum lessons, and provide parents with a window into their children’s education. eChalk users also have mobile access to the platform through an app for Android and iOS devices.

eChalk partnered with Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools to help the district create school and teacher websites. The online platform will enable teachers, students, and parents in Jefferson County schools to connect, communicate, and collaborate anytime, anywhere, to support effective, personalized learning.

Edmodo gives teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions, and notifications. Teachers can post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share content and materials, and network and exchange ideas with their peers.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at

Comments are closed.