A Student Run International Google Hangout

In a few weeks, school starts. As always, this means I have the opportunity to develop new curriculum projects, which for me is by far the best part about being an educator. I typically have lofty goals when a new school year starts and constantly strive to create meaningful and engaging real world learning experiences for my students. This year however, I’m attempting to take student (and teacher) learning to a whole new level. I’m a bit anxious about my plan, because I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I’m a firm believer that learning involves taking risks, and my latest initiative is no exception.

image credit: http://www.avila.edu

My idea for the 13-14 academic year is to facilitate an international student run Google Hangout. This idea came to me as a result of seeing an international Google Hangout coordinated by Allison Mollica which was broadcasted at the NH Cloud Camp event I attended back on July 11th. Ever since this Hangout, I’ve been thinking, “what if we could do this with our students?” So, I’ve decide to give this a try. It’s truly a grassroots effort, but with help and enthusiasm from other passionate educators across the world, I think this idea could become a reality.

Right now I’m in the research phase of the project. I am collecting data via a Google Form that will allow me to gage the level of interest and how logistically this project will work. I’m using Twitter and Google+ to spread the word about the idea and my next step is to establish a Google+ community so that everyone involved can begin collaborating. So far, I’m excited about the results and the potential of what this project could become. In just one day, educators from Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia, California, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Canada, Sweden, Australia, India, and Italy (my goal was teachers and students from 10 different countries so I’m halfway there!) have expressed interest in getting involved. I hope you will also get involved and/or forward this post to your colleagues and help me spread the word. The key ingredient that is missing, but one that will be here soon, is the input and creative talents from our students. I am certain that once our students get on board, the contributions they will make to this project will exceed our expectations.

For anyone out there who may be saying, “this sounds pretty touchy-feeling to me. What exactly is this ‘project’ going to be all about?” Let me share with you a few possible directions this project could take, as well as a few of the specific ideas I have for the International Google Hangout.

1. Students from different countries collaborate to create an original, official logo for the international Hangout. Great opportunity for our artistically-inclined students!

2. Students create and share 15 second Instagram videos showcasing “A day in the life at ______________ school.” This could show the world how social media can be used positively and productively in schools.

3. During the Hangout, students discuss questions such as:

“what is it like to be a learner today?”

“how does using technology impact your learning?”

“what is the best/worst part about school?”

“how can we solve the problem of (students decide on the issue they want to discuss)?” 

By no means are the above ideas set in stone, nor are they necessarily going to be incorporated into the project. If the group decides they like some of the above suggestions, great, but these are just a few ideas I’ve been brainstorming over the past couple of days.  I am completely open to the feedback, suggestions, and creative ideas of everyone who decides to get involved. Lastly, while I obviously want our students to play a major role in the development and implementation of this project, as the educators, we will ensure our students are safe during any and all online interactions and that we are following the acceptable use policies of every school participating.

So, as we approach the end of the summer and get ready for another school year, I hope you decide to take this journey with me and see where our learning takes us! To become involved, simply complete the Google Form below and be on the lookout for an invitation to join a Google+ community!

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