‘Our cluster has benefitted greatly with student-to-student discussions through Skype. With careful planning to take account of time differences and pre-planned questions, the students learn about their peers’ experiences and values on the other side of the world. It doesn’t take long for the students to realise how much they have in common as the discussions progress. As relationships develop, it’s really satisfying to see how the questions and replies develop in depth and thought.’
Andy Harding, Cluster Partnership leader at Cardinal Allen High School
As your partnership progresses, you can start to explore more sophisticated features of online collaboration tools and incorporate multiple platforms into your projects.
Online collaboration helps to nurture and care for the partnership, by giving partners the chance for more dynamic interaction, sharing and discussion.
- Include your cluster group, parents, carers and the wider community in local events and celebrations by setting up a virtual live link. This can be done easily via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
- Celebrate international events with your partners online, as happened in a partnership between the UK and Malawi, where students celebrated Global Handwashing Day with a song linked to their project on Global Goal 3, Good Health and Well-being
- Set up a dedicated YouTube channel or Facebook group for your partnership. In a partnership between Tanzania and the UK, pupils worked collaboratively on a cookery video to share amongst the partnership. Video content can be adapted to meet the identified needs of the partnership and can be easily stored and shared online
- Incorporate multiple platforms into projects to encourage involvement from more participants and create greater impact. Lea School, in the UK, conducted shared lessons on Good Health and Well-being with their partners in Beirut, and then Tweeted about these. The pupils in Beirut also delivered an online session to share information about Lebanese culture online, with information from the session being shared on Twitter and videos being uploaded to the school website.
Need guidance on safeguarding? Refer to the Key safeguarding points to consider in the introduction section of this toolkit.
Points to consider
- Set realistic expectations – online collaboration is new to many people and they may need time to learn as they go
- Be sensitive to your partners’ digital literacy and organise any required training
- Be aware that access to internet and digital resources differs across countries, so make plans to accommodate this
- Make time to talk about non-work-related topics. This will build the relationship
- As friendships begin to develop, try to ensure social conversations and project-related activities are kept to different channels. This will make it easier to highlight key messages and important updates, and ensure they are not overlooked
- Partnerships can come to an end abruptly if a key member of the project leaves. You can share ownership of the partnership and related resources amongst more staff members within the partner schools to avoid this
- Keep senior leaders informed of all key project activities. Involvement and support from senior leadership is key to ensuring your partnerships are productive, resilient and built to last.