Given the long-distance aspect of working with partners overseas, international school partnerships are by their very nature ‘online’.
This makes it even more important to ensure your partnership is built around effective online collaboration – from selecting the right tools, to ensuring you have the skills and connectivity to get the most from them.
The possibilities of online collaboration
- Online meeting tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are not only a great way to co-ordinate your partnership and discuss project plans with your partners; they can be used to engage learners through shared lessons and joint project work
- Skype is a quick and easy way to establish a live link with your partner school or outside experts, so students can actively participate by asking questions
- WhatsApp can be used for more focused groupwork among staff and pupils – it’s also a great way to get to know your partners!
- Collaboration spaces such as Padlet, Edmodo, Seesaw and Jamboard are great for engaging learners in project activities and for sharing work between schools. They can also boost parent/carer involvement
- Quizzes and polls are another effective way to boost pupil involvement
- Setting up a blog or YouTube channel for your partnership helps to capture and share successes across the partnership and with the wider world
- Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can also be a great way to share partnership results!
Considerations for collaborating online
What tools are best for you? There are a host of different tools available, so it is important to decide what best meets your partnership aims and enables clear consistent communication.
Does anyone require training? Consider the digital literacy skills in your school and your partner school, and organise any required training to ensure everyone can use the selected tools to their potential.
Is there sufficient connectivity? Be aware that access to internet and digital resources differs across countries, so make plans to accommodate this by selecting tools that match connectivity levels.
- As a general rule, your school’s own safeguarding policies and procedures apply to online collaboration
- The principles set out in your school’s staff behaviour and safeguarding policies will also apply to online collaboration
- Be aware that, like any online activity, safeguarding issues could arise if your online partnership activities are not regularly monitored
- You can find further guidance in the UK government’s Keeping Children Safe in Education report (updated 2022).