Frances Olive Anderson C.E. Primary School, East Midlands, England

Online tools can be a great addition to partnership activities at any stage of your journey. As your partnership develops, your use of online collaboration tools can develop, too!

Online collaboration can enrich project work and bring new dimensions to your partnership, whatever stage you’re at. Here we provide ideas and inspiration for integrating online collaboration tools into both new and established partnerships.

Project inspiration

If you’re looking for project ideas to work on with your partners, Connecting Classrooms offers a host of learning resources, freely available online. 

For new partnerships, the Get started with global learning resources offer activities to help you and your partners get to know each other. They also include ideas for sharing your outcomes with your partners online.

For established (and new) partnerships, the Global learning resources provide a great framework for collaborative projects focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all of which can be used as the basis for online collaboration.

‘I had a lot more in common with these pupils than I originally thought. It made the world a little smaller in my eyes.’

Online meetings are a great way for both staff and pupils to get to know each other, as this pupil from Frances Olive Anderson Primary School, Gainsborough, highlighted.

New partnerships

Online tools can be a great way to prepare and develop your partnership. Look at the many options available (see the Tools for online collaboration section) and decide together with your partners what tools will work best for you. Also identify any training and development needs before you begin.

  • Use online meetings (Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype) to plan and co-ordinate partnership activities. Regular meetings help to support progress and highlight issues. Try to agree a specific time every month for a meeting – a consistent time will allow attendees to plan their schedule accordingly. Be aware of potential time differences and language barriers.
  • Help participating teachers get to know one other by sharing videos or photos of staff, information about their role in the school, their personal and professional interests, and their project objectives. 
  • Use participants’ experience and knowledge to build a relationship between the two classrooms. Think about successful classroom activities and how these can be adapted to the digital context.
  • Setting up student-to-student conversations in the classroom brings the programme to life and allows real-time interaction with peers from across the world. These conversations can be hugely impactful – students become active in their own learning by asking questions and learning about differences (and similarities) that they may have not previously realised.
  • When real-time conversation is impractical, a similar interview-style exercise can be carried out ‘offline’. Have students in all schools agree on a set of questions and share responses via email. You may wish to record videos of students answering such questions. Pen-pals are also a great way of ensuring all students take part. 
  • Need guidance on safeguarding? Refer to the Key safeguarding points to consider in the introduction section of this toolkit.
  • Use online collaboration spaces, such as Padlet, to encourage teachers and learners to upload content and share relevant links such as articles, blogs, videos and podcasts. 
  • Sharing pupils’ work between partner schools motivates learners and inspires the wider school community.

See this video from teacher Alyson Meredith about how sharing work enhanced her partnership.