iEARN welcomes you to our network of international educators and students working together to learn with the world! iEARN is a community of educators who share the vision that online collaborative projects can enhance both learning as well as the quality of life on the planet.
One of the best ways to become involved is to be part of a collaborative iEARN project. We’ve discovered that online collaboration combined with face-to-face gatherings create a unique professional, caring, dedicated and committed community of learners.
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.
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?
iEARN projects create a real audience for students because they involve collaborating with students in another country; this audience plays a key role in student motivation. Within an iEARN project, students enhance critical thinking skills, apply learning to real problems, take action in local communities, and develop both cross-cultural awareness and global citizenship.
- 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 Multimedia guide.
Steps to Getting Started
1. Visit and register at the iEARN Collaboration Center
Meet others in iEARN -- we invite new members to introduce themselves and greet new members on our forums for connecting people. Teachers and students must be registered to enter the iEARN forums. Teachers can register students via the Member Dashboard on iEARN's Collaboration Centre.
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.
2. Learn about Projects
Experienced teachers will advise that you and your classroom start by getting involved in an existing project online, rather than trying to start a project of your own. Participating in other projects is a great way to meet other potential partners, and learn about the many different projects initiated by teachers and students throughout the world. It can be a great way to develop ideas for how to integrate collaborative projects into your classroom, without having to take on the role of facilitating the involvement of other classes your first time participating.
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: Registration required)
Look at a presentation about a sample project to get an idea of the different parts of an iEARN project.
3. Choose a Project
We encourage all iEARN teachers and students to participate in existing projects before initiating a project of their own.
Finding a project can be daunting. 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
Communication: 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.
Create a list of your objectives for choosing a project to join. Your objectives should include:
- a time-frame
- the general progression of lessons and activities
- the goals you wish you and your students to achieve
- ways in which you will determine if the objectives have been met – how will you assess your students?
- Go to the Forums and introduce yourself and your students in the Teachers Forum
- Learn about the different types of projects
- See sample project plans and objectives
- Consider enrolling in one of iEARN’s professional development workshops
4. Make contact
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. In your email, include:
- An introduction to yourself and your students
- Your objectives for joining the project
- We also recommend you post a message to the specific forum for the project. Indicate where you are from, who you are, and what your objectives are for your students’ involvement in the project.
5. 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.
- Review netiquette. This site covers some basic guidelines worthy of sharing with students. The video below is also useful.
- 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.
6. 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!
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.
7. 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.
- 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: Include photos, stories, and videos in your communications!
Learn more about iEARN projects
If you have already participated in a current iEARN project, have made contacts, have contributed regularly on the forums, and are comfortable with how projects work, you may be interested in developing your own project.
- We encourage all iEARN teachers and students to participate in existing projects before initiating a project of their own.
- Announce your idea by posting it to the Teachers' Forum. This is to generate discussion and possible collaboration on the actual design of the project, and to see if there are other people interested in the topic.
- Once you find others who are interested in collaborating on the new project, fill out the Project Idea Template Form. (Note: iEARN Coordinators will help to find an online forum for your project and will indicate this on the Project Template.)
- After the iEARN Coordinator has assigned your project to a forum, we ask that you (the facilitator) start an "Updates" thread to provide participants with updates about the project (news, timeline modifications, etc) and an "Introductions" thread in which new members introduce themselves as they join.
- Occasionally post responses to your topic so that other iEARN community members know whether it is ongoing or has ended, and if you are still looking for participants, etc. We strongly encourage you to update your original announcement by posting news of the project as responses to the original announcement.
- Also, send updates to newsflash @ us.iearn.org, so that we can include them in the iEARN in Action: Newsflash.
- Find more suggestions for successful project facilitation here!
iEARN Project Template
- Name of Project:
- Brief one-sentence description of project:
- Full description of project:
- Age/level of project participants:
- Timetable/Schedule for the project:
- Possible project/classroom activities:
- Expected outcomes/products:
- Project contribution to others and the planet:
- Project language(s):
- Subject area/Curriculum area:
- Names/email of initial participating groups:
- Name of facilitator(s):
- Email of facilitator(s):
- iEARN Forum where it will take place or is taking place (leave blank if uncertain, and you will be assigned to a forum):
- WWW page of project (not required):
Submit the completed template using this form.