Getting Started

Welcome!

iEARN welcomes you to our network of international educators and students working together to learn with the world! Our community shares the vision that online collaborative projects can enhance both learning as well as the quality of life on the planet. Go around the world with the iEARN Network in 60 seconds!

Once you become an iEARN Member, you can collaborate with our community by joining an iEARN Project! Our projects combine online collaboration with face-to-face gatherings to create a unique professional, caring, dedicated and committed community of learners.

Learn more about the iEARN project model or skip ahead to a step-by-step guide for joining an iEARN project:

What is an iEARN project?

An iEARN project is a collaborative academic endeavor between two or more groups of students and educators in different parts of the world. iEARN projects take on many different forms, but most are rooted in the pedagogy of project-based learning. Most projects are process-oriented, but also result in some kind of end “product” that is shared between the participants.

Search through our available iEARN Projects!

In addition to connecting students' learning with local issues and meeting specific curriculum needs, every iEARN project must answer the question, "How will this project improve the quality of life on the planet?" This vision and purpose is the glue that holds iEARN together, enabling participants to become global citizens who make a difference by collaborating with their peers around the world.

Why an iEARN project?

By directly connecting students with their peers around the world, iEARN Projects motivate students to participate in meaningful dialogue. The friendships that both teachers and students form during iEARN Projects add context to the discussions so that understanding goes hand in hand with learning. By participating in iEARN Projects, students enhance critical thinking skills, apply learning to real problems, take action in local communities, and develop both cross-cultural awareness and global citizenship.

iEARN Projects:

  • Enable students to share digital media in iEARN’s online Collaboration Centre;
  • Internationalize any curriculum area and are adaptable to fit both an educator’s classroom needs and state standards;
  • Help build and improve 21st Century Skills;
  • Encourage civic participation as active global citizens;
  • Promote teamwork and cross-cultural awareness;
  • Provide opportunities for students to use world language skills.

TIP: More ideas about how to make iEARN projects authentic learning experiences can be found in our iEARN Teacher's Guide.

Steps to Getting Started

1. Visit the Collaboration Centre and Become an iEARN Member

We invite new members to introduce themselves and greet new members on our forums for connecting people. iEARN is a membership organization and teachers and students must be registered to enter the iEARN forums.  To register, or request more information, complete our online registration form and information will be sent to the iEARN Coordinator in your country. Teachers can register students via the Member Dashboard on iEARN's Collaboration Centre.

2. Connect with the Community

A great way to get started is to introduce yourself to and get to know others in the community. You can get familiar with the platform by visiting the teacher's forum and practice posting by responding to other members.

Relationships with educators around the world are fundamental to iEARN projects. These relationships facilitate the difficult task of collaborating on projects across diverse educational systems, time zones, academic schedules, cultural differences, linguistic obstacles, and non-oral and non-visual learning media. iEARN places a high priority on building these relationships - both online and during face-to-face meetings of teachers and students.

TIP: iEARN has language forums! All iEARN forums are multilingual, though there are also a number of special language forums dedicated connections. iEARN is also open to hosting additional language forums if enough interest is expressed. Our Language Resource Page can help you find various resources available across the network.

3. Explore Current iEARN Projects

iEARN has more than 80 active projects each year. These projects are created and facilitated by members of the iEARN Community. As a new iEARN Member, your first step will be joining an existing iEARN Project as a project participant.

Several resources will help you find current iEARN projects and how to be involved in them. Browse all or one of them to see what kinds of projects are happening!

  • iEARN in Action: Newsflash - Our online newsletter is sent every two weeks. Find new projects, people looking for collaborators, updates on continuing projects, and general announcements. To receive the iEARN in Action: Newsflash via email, write to subscribe @ us.iearn.org requesting to be added to the distribution list.
  • iEARN Project Book - This annual multi-lingual publication is sent to all members of iEARN.
  • iEARN Project Database on the Collaboration Center - iEARN's searchable project database has detailed information about projects in the iEARN community. (Note: In order to join and participate in projects, registration is required.)

4. Select a Project

We encourage all iEARN teachers and students to participate in existing projects before initiating a project of their own.

iEARN projects are designed by teachers and students and take on many different forms. Most iEARN projects fall into three categories:

  • Ongoing projects which run year after year continuously. Participants can join at various times throughout the year.
  • Short-term projects with a stated start and end date.
  • Learning Circles: A Learning Circle is made up of a team of 6-8 teachers and their classes joined in the virtual space of an electronic classroom. The groups remain together over a 3-4 month period working on projects drawn from the curriculum of each of the classrooms and organized around a selected theme. At the end of the period the group collects and publishes its work.

Finding a project can be challenging. Try to choose a project that is:

  • in your language or in a language you are open to learning
  • relevant to your students and their needs
  • able to fit into your school’s curriculum
  • age-appropriate for your students
  • happening at an appropriate time for you in your academic schedule

The "Developing a Project Plan" Module of the iEARN Teacher's Guide has helpful steps for integrating a project into your curriculum. Once you've decided on a project - you'll need to join on the Collaboration Centre! Follow these instructions to join an iEARN Project.

5. Connect with Facilitators and Partners

The Project Facilitators for each iEARN Project are there to help you connect with other iEARN teachers participating in the project, as well as guide you in potential activities and project work your classroom can complete. You can find the Project Facilitator’s email contact information on the specific forum for the project you are interested in joining, or in the Project Book.

We recommend posting a discussion in the forum of the iEARN Project you are participating in, to introduce yourself to the Project Facilitator and other project participants. In your post, it is best to include:

  • An introduction to yourself and your students
  • Your objectives for joining the project

A key to success in iEARN is developing effective relationships with educators around the network. As you explore, we recommend you keep this idea of building connections in mind and think about what you as a teacher can learn from others who are already working in the network.

TIP: In the forums you can mention other iEARN members in your posts. This ensures they receive a notification of your discussion or comment. To mention another user, you’ll simply need to use the “@” symbol, and then start typing the iEARN member’s username. iEARN usernames are typically formatting firstname_lastname. Watch the screencast below to learn how to mention other users:

6. Prepare your Students

Introduce the project and iEARN to your students. Several resources exist to help with this. Some suggestions:

  • Maps and clocks in different time zones in your classroom can help students understand the physical dynamic of global collaboration. The website “Every Time Zone” provides an easy to understand and dynamic interface for viewing time zones.
  • Review netiquette. The "Engaging in Dialogue" Module of the iEARN Teacher's Guide covers some basic guidelines worthy of sharing with students.
  • You might wish to use a Buddy Contract (pdf) with your students to ensure they understand the importance of respectful communication. Additionally, it ensures each forum posting is reviewed before being published.
  • Bring your students online and have them read other students’ forum postings about that particular project. They can also introduce themselves in the Youth Forum.

7. Engage your students

Communication is key in any project! As a teacher, you’ll need to ensure your students are actively participating online. All students want and need responses to the messages they post; this is part of an authentic audience. Suggestions:

  • Use an agreed-upon writing process. We recommend that your students post 2 responses for every new message they post.
  • Remind students to reference the points made in the message to which they are responding.
  • Asking questions is another great way to further dialogue.
  • Remind students that English is usually the second or third language of their global peers. Encourage students to learn words in the languages of their global peers as a way to make connections.
  • Be sure to publish student work! Include photos, stories, and videos in your communications!

8. Share your work!

Keep the momentum going! Be sure to communicate with your students and the project facilitator.

Consider ways to further publish and present your global project work to the local community and the world beyond. The "Presenting Student Outcomes" Module in the iEARN Teacher's Guide includes many ideas for sharing work; here are a few:

  • Use school bulletin boards, publications, websites, wikis, blogs, and more if you have them.
  • Update iEARN on your progress and we will include these updates in our regular iEARN in Action: Newsflash.
  • After collaborating online throughout the academic year, teachers and students are invited to meet face-to-face at iEARN's Annual Conference and Youth Summit to share classroom experiences, give workshops, and learn from one another.

TIP: Most iEARN projects involve a final “product” (webpage, hard-copy publication, etc) and together students want the product to be the best possible. In addition, you may also want to consider publishing student work locally to reflect your students’ global project participation. 

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