We live in a world where advanced technology affords us the opportunity to introduce students to different areas of the world without leaving the classroom. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to utilize digital resources to transform young learners into global citizens. With virtual exchanges, students are given an intimate glimpse into the routines, habits, and cultures of individuals living thousands of miles away. These unique classroom experiences aren’t just fun; virtual exchanges increase understanding and acceptance within a school community, diversify a student’s academic repertoire, and can greatly improve skills for those learning a foreign language.
Because Amity is a U.S. State Department designated J-1 visa sponsor, cultural exchange is not an option… it is a necessity. Our International Teachers commit to facilitating cross-cultural activities with not only their U.S. host school and community, but also internationally with a school abroad.
Are you uncertain how to approach a virtual exchange? Have no fear… Amity will break down the basics below, and provide some resources to help make this process enjoyable for all!
What exactly is a virtual exchange?
According to the international exchange network EVOLVE (Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange) virtual exchange can be defined as:
a practice, supported by research, that consists of sustained, technology-enabled, people-to-people education programs or activities in which constructive communication and interaction takes place between individuals or groups who are geographically separated and/or from different cultural backgrounds, with the support of educators or facilitators. Virtual exchange combines the deep impact of intercultural dialogue and exchange with the broad reach of digital technology.(EVOLVE)
Essentially, virtual exchange allows teachers to utilize technology to introduce their students to individuals and cultures around the world without ever leaving the classroom. Teachers may choose to organize this exchange with other educators that they know personally, or they may reach out to schools/educators via the internet or educational forums. There are also many organizations that will help arrange exchanges across the world if the educator does not have any personal resources to do so (some are listed at the bottom of this article).
What are some examples of virtual exchange activities?
- Getting to know each other by sharing daily routines and personal life via video or email.
- Sharing cultural traditions such as music, dance, dress, recipes, special holiday or celebrations.
- Exploring their perspective regions of the world via maps, images, etc.
- Teaching one another about favorite things: i.e. movies, books, foods, subjects, sports teams.
- Participating in a conversational or written language exchange.
- Completing interactive assignments that address curriculum-based learning in both countries and reviewing together.
What technology can be used to support a virtual exchange?
- Google Hangouts
- Smart Phones or Laptops for recording videos
- Google Slides
If you are still having difficulty figuring out how to facilitate a virtual exchange for your students or school community, have no fear. Below are some wonderful resources to explore and utilize. Bon (virtual) voyage!
- Teachers’ Guide to Global Collaboration
- With the support of the Longview Foundation, iEARN-USA has compiled an online Teachers’ Guide to Global, Collaborative Teaching and Learning.This guide is an unbranded, user-driven resource for teachers looking for projects and resources to collaborate with other classes around the world.
- State Department – Virtual Exchanges Tool Kit
- Empatico aims to connect millions of educators and children so they can see other communities, share their lives, and learn about others different from themselves.
- Virtual Exchange Coalition
- Founded in 2011, VEC is an international network of practitioners, teachers, researchers, and funders seeking to advance virtual exchange.
- Places to Find Ideas or Educators to Collaborate With:
- MapWorks – Assembly Point
- Teach The Global Goals – Online Educator Forum
- iEARN Collaboration Center – Over 100 Active Global Projects
- Inspiring Virtual Exchange Projects
- Ideas for Setting Up a Successful Virtual Exchange Project
- Amity Alumni! Contact your Program Counselor to discuss facilitating a virtual exchange with one of our former participants.