Digital Learning: Your Passport to a Global Classroom

There’s no denying that global education is integral to building the 21st century skills necessary for today’s students to compete in tomorrow’s increasingly complex and connected world.

Technology is key to creating individualized learning and to connecting students with diverse cultural backgrounds from around the world. Both of these elements create an engaging blended learning. classroom environment that makes learning as a group exciting and fun, and at the same time encourages students to be curious explorers on their own.

“Advances in technology in the classroom allow students to engage in learning and connect with classrooms of the world in new and powerful ways,” says Jennifer Williams, co-founder and lead program developer for Calliope Global, which works with schools and organizations worldwide to promote global education programs. “Global education is shaping pedagogical practice and redefining the way we teach and the way students learn.”

A STEM Global Education Project

This past summer, Calliope’s Conquistadors Connect program brought together students from Florida (Grades 4–6) and students from Madrid (Grades 7–9) in a yearlong project that started and ended with international travel. “It was exciting to see the transformational effects of developing and implementing a comprehensive STEM global project,” Williams says.

It all began in 2014, when Calliope took 26 Florida students to Spain for an immersive cultural experience. During their 10-day journey, they visited a local school and developed a wonderful relationship with an English language teacher and her students. Over the course of the year that followed, the students in Florida and Spain worked together with their classes—and each other—using online communication tools including Google Hangout, Instagram, and Skype to collaborate on different classroom projects. Last summer, the Spanish students visited Florida for a two-week cross-cultural learning experience focusing on marine science; exploring the Gulf Coast through history, technology, culture, and science. Activities included beach visits, kayak expeditions, dolphin excursions, and aquarium tours.

“We seamlessly integrated technological tools into research and learning, and in digital artifact creation,” Williams explains. “The students loved presenting remotely to a group of international teachers in a Mystery Skype during a presentation for the International Society for Technology in Education.” The students continue to use communication and social media tools such as Voxer and WhatsApp to connect.

“It’s experiences such as these where we truly see the transformational power of combining technology, global education, and content area study in engaging learning and the search for knowledge,” Williams says.

21 Digital Collaboration Tools for the Classroom

Digital tools are allowing students to create content and explore understandings of the world—together, as international partners. “Students are addressing problems of global significance to collaboratively find solutions for today and for the future,” says Williams. In her work with Calliope, she has helped to create programs and projects that connect students to meaningful learning that fully engages all levels of learners, crossing over the boundaries of traditional curriculum as well as the physical boundaries of the world. Here are 21 digital tools to build your global community:

Collaboration Tools for Classrooms

1. Skype

What is it? One of the most popular audio/visual apps for classrooms to collaborate and exchange information.

What’s cool? Skype in the Classroom offers some great ideas for linking up with like-minded teachers and students in the U.S. and abroad.

2. Google Hangout

What is it? All you need is a Google Plus account (you have one if you use Gmail) to create a virtual “room” where up to ten participants can hang out and share ideas.

What’s cool? Google Hangout apps help you to bring conversations to life with videos, photos, fun emojis, and other add-ons.

3. Blackboard Collaborate

What is it? A virtual meeting space for teachers and students.

What’s cool? Record meetings for those who can’t attend. Great for working between different time zones!

4. Google Earth

What is it? A virtual globe that displays satellite images and maps to give students an online bird’s-eye view of the world. Great for cross-classroom math, science, geography, and history lessons.

What’s cool? Give your classroom a real feel for a different country by using Google SketchUp to make 3D models of maps on Google Earth.

5. Ning

What is it? A social-networking page with audio, text, and video-uploading abilities, so students can introduce themselves, get to know each other, and share content.

What’s cool? Ning provides a multimedia channel—a true virtual classroom! Students in some countries can post content from their cell phones.

6. Pinterest

What is it? Teachers around the world are using Pinterest as a meeting place to share photos, resources, and classroom lessons.

What’s cool? Students in classrooms across the globe could easily share a Pinterest page to swap photos and information about a topic.

7. Evernote

What is it? Organize notes, photos, and to-do lists in one searchable place that’s accessible to whomever has the account information.

What’s cool? The Skitch application makes it easy for students to capture and edit photos on Tublr, Pinterest, and other social media sites, and then share in Evernote. They can insert arrows and highlight important items to provide visual feedback for other students.

8. Periscope

What is it? A smartphone app that allows users to broadcast a live video stream to public or private audiences anywhere in the world.

What’s cool? Viewers can use the “chatbox” feature to add comments and questions, and they can “like” content by clicking a heart symbol. Broadcasts are available for 24 hours and can be saved to a phone’s camera roll.


What is it? An app used with Periscope that automatically archives broadcasts.

What’s cool? Broadcasts can be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media.

10. Voxer

What is it? A push-to-talk messaging app. (Remember the walkie-talkie?) What’s cool? The ability to send a combination of text, photos, and audio messages to a single person or a group. Plus, it’s fun to use!

11. Diigo

What is it? A bookmarking tool that allows for sharing with multiple users, across multiple devices.

What’s cool? Create lists, add tags, notes, and highlight text. It’s all stored in the cloud!

12. Moodle

What is it? A free learning management system where you can post lectures, readings, assignments, and other tools to help yours students stay on track.

What’s cool? The ability to see when your students last logged on or if your students have checked the links you posted. And everything posted is stored in the cloud for years to come.

13. Twiducate

What is it? A collaborative learning tool that lets students and teachers alike create communities and share ideas.

What’s cool? Gives you full control over who’s in your group, allowing for collaboration across different schools.

14. TweenTribune

What is it? Get your students in the habit of keeping up with the news with the latest upbeat news of the day.

What’s cool? Content is limited to news relevant to kids, and students are able to comment on the articles to give their own perspective.

15. Minecraftedu

What is it? This video game allows students to collaborate and explore while learning about subjects from history to algebra.

What’s cool? Teachers can even customize the game’s content to fit their curriculum!

16. Edmodo

What is it? A social network designed for the classroom, allowing students and teachers to communicate, problem solve, and collaborate with one another online.

What’s cool? Includes assessment tools, security features, and news feeds to enhance your students’ learning experience.

17. Wikispaces Classroom

What is it? Online collaboration and assessment tool.

What’s cool? Create a classroom workspace where you can measure student contribution and engagement in real time.

18. Sumdog

What is it? Free educational games for kids.

What’s cool? Students can add friends to their account and play against them at home, and teachers can customize the content students learn, and access their progress.

19. ClassDojo

What is it? A behavior management tool for the classroom. Analyze your students’ study habits in and out of the classroom with real-time data and assessment tools.

What’s cool? Generates data that teachers can share with administrators and parents to help foster a smoother learning environment.

20. Socrative

What is it? An engaging personalization tool that lets you conduct formative assessments through online quizzes, polls, and games.

What’s cool? Instantly grades, aggregates, and provides visuals of results so that you can identify where your students are struggling.

21. Explain Everything

What is it? Prepare, record, export, and play back lessons to give your students access to your lectures from home, leaving you better prepared to teach an engaging lesson in the classroom.

What’s cool? You can create additional demonstrations and tutorials to help struggling students get a grasp of the material.