News

iEARN-USA Leads Workshop Virtually to Prepare Educators for Global Collaboration

Ocde Blog Post 2

iEARN-USA professional development services play a key role in supporting educators to become global education leaders. They create a professional learning community, provide support, and guide educators in integrating global projects into their curriculum. iEARN-USA has offered in-person workshops to provide teachers with hands-on tools and resources to empower them to build long-lasting global connections.

The Education Team at iEARN-USA leads global project-based learning workshops at schools and events across the United States. Typically, workshops include presentations and hands-on sessions to explore the core elements of virtual exchange for collaborating with other classrooms around the world and incorporating global projects across different curriculum areas.

This October, iEARN-USA staff piloted a new workshop model by hosting a virtual workshop for teachers with the Orange County Department of Education in California.

While in-person workshops  are an engaging and effective means to introduce educators to the tenets of global collaboration and virtual exchange,  it is sometimes not possible nor cost-effective for the iEARN-USA team to facilitate a workshop in-person. iEARN-USA’s Professional Development Manager Rachel Manley shares her experience and two guiding principles on conducting introductory workshops in global education:



I was approached by Allen Witten, one of our iEARN Educators and iEARN-USA Global Education Ambassadors. He has worked hard over the last year to gain momentum for global education in his district and bring more teachers on board. That finally happened for him at the start of this school year. He had 10 new teachers across the district that were ready to start their journey in global collaboration. Allen and I worked together to develop a one-day workshop, in which I facilitated virtually and he facilitated in-person. 

From this experience, I learned that a successful virtual workshop requires three components: an in-person facilitator or moderator, diversity of presenters and opportunities to engage, and the proper technology tools.


Having an in-person facilitator aides in running a smooth workshop and allows you to do hands-on activities. It also allows us to involve veteran iEARN educators to share their expertise and knowledge. It is a challenge to engage participants when they are listening to a talking head on a screen all day; therefore it is crucial in virtual workshops to bring in a diversity of presenters, a range of activities, and innovative ways to engage. Technology equipment and setup is key to a successful virtual workshop. This includes having high quality web cameras, speakers, individual computers and a large presentation screen for those in the workshop.

Regardless of whether a workshop is in-person or virtual, I have found that educators need to walk away from the workshop with two things: an inspirational vision for global collaboration and practical strategies for getting started tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2018 11 07 At 5 40 17 Pm

Creating an Inspirational Vision for Global Collaboration

As a component of every workshop that I conduct, I invite an international iEARN educator as a virtual guest speaker. The main purpose of this is to inspire and motivate the new educators, and help them begin their journey in global virtual collaboration. In the virtual workshop in California, educators met Maha Alawdat, an educator from Israel; Tamar Lolishvili, an educator and project facilitator from Georgia; and Ana Robakidze, one of Tamar’s students from Georgia.

“I would like to say something to the teachers that are considering taking part in iEARN, and that are in iEARN. I would like to thank you all because you are doing such a great thing for your students. You are helping them to express their own thoughts, meet people that they never thought they would meet in their lives, and after meeting them they don’t think their lives would be that good without them. You are influencing them with a great great thing. Your experience is really important to them. I really appreciate that my teacher gave me the experience of taking part in iEARN. When they see that we have actually made change in the world and the world has evolved, I think the first person that will come to their mind will be you.” - Ana, Georgia

The workshop attendees unanimously agreed that the special guests were their favorite part of the day. Experiencing a virtual exchange themselves, connecting with two teachers and a student from different parts of the world, ignited their passion and inspiration for engaging in this work. The need for building cross-cultural understanding and global collaboration was amplified.

Allen inspired the group by sharing, “I've never been happier in my professional career, and it is all thanks to the great people of iEARN in the U.S. and around the world." In addition to inspiration, these virtual guest speakers provide practical advice and insight into their project experience and model what a synchronous video conference may look like in the classroom.

Screen Shot 2018 10 11 At 11 36 20 Am
“I would like to thank you all because you are doing such a great thing for your students. You are helping them to express their own thoughts, meet people that they never thought they would meet in their lives, and after meeting them they don’t think their lives would be that good without them. You are influencing them with a great great thing. Your experience is really important to them. I really appreciate that my teacher gave me the experience of taking part in iEARN. When they see that we have actually made change in the world and the world has evolved, I think the first person that will come to their mind will be you.       
-Ana, iEARN Student, Georgia


Practical Strategies for Getting Started

Once educators are inspired, they need the practical tools and strategies to get started with global projects in the classroom. During our workshops, we spend ample time on curriculum integration, project selection, technology tools and student preparation. One of the workshop sessions is dedicated to exploring global themes and iEARN projects, then making a plan for how they will align and fit into each teacher’s curriculum and subject area. In another session, participants explore various technology tools for global projects and virtual exchange. This includes exploration of iEARN’s Collaboration Centre, communication tools, and video conferencing. The last session of the day is dedicated to student preparation. Educators discuss what background knowledge, skills, and preparation their students will need to engage in virtual exchange. Best practices and resources are shared to start this work with their students the next day!

“Over all it was outstanding! We all enjoyed it and the team is so dedicated to the project. Thank you so much!!!” - Workshop Participant


To learn more about iEARN-USA’s professional development services and to book a workshop or register for an upcoming online course, view our Professional Development Information Packet or contact pd@us.iearn.org.