Connect & Collaborate Through Global Virtual Classroom

For many years my dear friend and mentor, Janet Barnstable, has been part of an amazing Global collaborative project, The Global Virtual Classroom (GVC). As we approach the start of the school year and registration opens for this year’s participants, I asked Janet to write a guest post to share this great learning opportunity with readers of this blog. I hope you will consider connecting and collaborating internationally through GVC.

Connect & Collaborate Through Global Virtual Classroom

Guest post by Janet Barnstable

The Global Virtual Classroom vision is to empower, enable, and connect students around the world using Internet technology. Teacher and students must be willing to make a serious commitment to collaborating with their partner schools for the duration of the project. Our emphasis is on teamwork across cultural and geographic distances, which is much harder than working together in the same room.

What is this contest?
Three schools are teamed by the GVC into a single team. That team works together to create a website about a world issue that they have chosen collaboratively. This is a full year commitment. Schools need strong collaboration skills, as the 3 schools in each team are separated geographically, but need to work together as one.

Who may participate?
Teacher guided Primary (Grades 1-­7) and Secondary (Grades 8­-12, or equivalent) classes and youth groups around the world that have access to the Internet and know or can learn to use Google Sites.

Contest Benefits
Why would a teacher and class take on this task?
  • Real world experience and audience
  • Global collaboration
  • Build on each person’s strengths to create a whole; the group is better together!
  • Nothing teaches faster than learning from each other.
  • Authentic assessment ­rubric provided for guidance

What do projects look like?
To see what others have done, look here. The Primary division is listed first, followed by the Secondary.

Ready for this adventure? 

Click here to register.

Want more information first? Go to the GVC’s Web Contest

If you have questions, contact our Program Manager, Janet Barnstable.

Sponsored by Give Something Back International Foundation

About the Author

Janet Barnstable has participated in the GVC programs since its inception in 1996. Now retired, she devotes her time and energies to helping other teachers experience the joys and survive the anguish of International collaborations. Janet has been involved in International collaborations since the early 90’s having begun with an 800 number supplied by the Archdiocese of Chicago and a 300 baud modem! How times have changed! Janet has been appropriately and affectionately described by Vicki Davis on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog as  “A Global Collaborative Pioneer”.


Global Virtual Classroom to Extend Classroom Walls

How will you go beyond the walls of your classroom this year?

GVC LOGO with GSBI 2Global Virtual Classroom provides teachers and students across the globe with amazing opportunities and resources to collaborate, work together, and learn from each other. My longtime friend and mentor, Janet Barnstable, has been the program manager for Global Virtual Classroom for several years and I highly recommend working with Janet and the GVC team. You can participate in the Web Design Contest or the GVC Clubhouse if you are interested in extending the walls of your classroom this year.

The Web Design Contest

Three schools are teamed by GVC into a single team.  That team works together to create a website about a world issue that they have chosen collaboratively.This is a full year commitment which involves knowing how to create a website. Schools also need strong collaboration skills, as the 3 schools in each team are separated geographically, but need to work together as one.

More information can be found on the GVC wiki 

GVC also participates yearly in GlobalDreamers Peace and Holocaust Remembrance projects. There is also the opportunity for postal mail with schools in Kenya who do not have sufficient Internet access for online collaborations.

GVC Clubhouse

The Global Virtual Classroom Clubhouse invites you to join projects and learn about other students and places around the world. Join the  wiki and get started!
As an additional feature this year, we have added a Skype chat group called: GVCclubhouse.

Here are some of the ongoing projects:

  • Literature Corner – Original stories and poems as well as book reviews recommending books to other students.
  • International Recipes – Students and teachers from around the globe contribute recipes for favorite dishes.
  • Regions – Tell us about where you live; read about other parts of the world.
  • HandMade – What things are made by hand by people in your country?

Reach out and join us this school year!

Andrew Ezzell
Founder & President
Janet Barnstable
GVC Program Manager
Marsha Goren
GVC Clubhouse
Project Director
Ronda Zelzeny-Green
GVC International
Outreach Director

GlobalDreamers is a project created originally by Marsha Goren, Israel, who also runs the “Teaching for Life” Wiki with worksheets for teachers of English as a foreign language.
Global Virtual Classroom is sponsored by Give Something Back International, Florida, USA.

Twitter – Powerful Bursts of Information

Twitter is a resource I often tap into. I am not a Twitter expert, nor do I utilize Twitter to it’s greatest potential, but it is certainly one of my go to tools when I’m looking to share and learn from the ideas of others. 

Many people don’t understand how Twitter can work efficiently. Many people don’t think they have time for Twitter.  Perhaps they don’t. We all have different learning styles and preferred methods of information gathering. We must all choose the tools that work for us and Twitter is in my toolkit because it works well for me as an efficient and effective tool for collaboration!

Twitter has allowed me to connect with many amazing, talented and connected #EdTech stakeholders across the planet. Twitter is efficient. Words are well chosen, the language is constantly reinvented, and of course links to resources are the treasures.

I recently had a quick Twitter conversation with Naomi Harm, a talented innovative educator and EdTech consultant from Minnesota.  Naomi and I have never met face to face, but we are certainly connected. We learn from each other, we share each other’s resources and ideas, and we collaborate quickly and efficiently. I’ve known Naomi to be an iPad expert for many years and since I have just jumped in to the iPad journey in my school, I grabbed the opportunity to ask Naomi for her for guidance. 

Here is our 15 minutes conversation, filled with treasures. Ah, yes…the things I can do with this information! Thanks Naomi. Keep on Tweeting!

Hello Naomi. Can you share your best iPad advice in 140 char or less? iPads are coming my way and I value your expertise.
Hi dear friend! Utilize the iPads as collaborative literacy tools & creative stations 4 students need to be co-creators/publishers
iPad literacy tools to empower student learning and creative/critical thinking/publishing: Book Creator, Skitch, Write About This
iPad literacy tools 2 empower student learning and creative/critical thinking/publishing: Primary Writer, Max Journal, Group Maker
Tap into the app repository of Appitic iPad Lessons for brillant ideas. Take care!
Thx for advice Perhaps a mantra: iPad literacy tools 2 empower student learning creativity and critical thinking. Amazing resources!


Wikispaces Projects Feature – Manage Projects Efficiently

Last fall Wikispaces added a new feature to the free education version of their collaborative website platform called ProjectsDesigned specifically for classroom use, this new feature has streamlined the process of organizing and implementing collaborative projects by allowing wiki organizers to set aside designated space for project based team work. With the push a button, wiki organizers now have the ability to setup a project,  assign students to teams, control editing and viewing privileges for each team space, and utilize templates created specifically for that project.  Basically, the Projects feature allows organizers to create a wiki within a wiki!

How can educators use this new feature to streamline the process of managing and implementing collaborative projects?

  • Wiki organizers can create new projects right within an existing class wiki, rather than creating a separate project wiki to keep things organized.
  • A  project template can be used as a starting point or home page. Each team space will have their own copy of the page which means they can interact with it, instead of just viewing it. Templates can include text, graphics, multimedia, links and any number of  embeddable resources. Imagine an interactive, multi-media project rubric students can use to document work and self-evaluate as they go.
  • Teams of students can easily create new pages within their team space that are automatically linked to their home page for easy navigation. These pages can be unique and designed by students, or they can be modified templates created by wiki organizers to guide the learning and provide consistency.
  • Team members can hold discussions with each other that are independent of the other parts of the wiki and found in one location for easy access. Organizers have the ability to participate in each team’s discussion to provide students with immediate feedback and guide a project in this 24/7 classroom.
  • Wiki organizers can save time by creating templates and resources that can be used the next time the project is implemented, or modifying those templates for similiar projects.
  • Basically the Projects feature gives organizers the ability to turn a wiki into a tool that drives the classroom, providing one-stop shopping for communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity!
Things to Note:
If you are already a Wikispaces user and you are interested in trying this new feature, please note that you must have an educator account to view and access the Projects link in the sidebar. It’s also important to do some prep work and planning before attempting to setup a project, so taking the time to fill out a lesson plan will prove helpful in the long run. You’ll need to come up with team names and decide how many students will be included in each team. The most important thing to note is this: If you want to provide students with a project kickoff page, create that page first, then turn it into a template before setting up the project. 
Webinars: 2/14 or 2/15

If you haven’t yet tried Wikispaces, you can setup a free 
educator account  at If you need more information about why you should try a wiki, or if you would like to view some sample wikis, please read my earlier post: Wild About Wikispaces.