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Page history last edited by Bob Hofman 15 years, 5 months ago




When working on international projects communication is an essential part of the whole. Infrastructure and technology are vital for a successful cooperation. About 15 years ago the obvious means were letter and phone contact. It’s impossible to imagine life today without email, webcams, and other communication tools. This module will be about the technical aspects of the use of various communication tools when taking part in an international project, where ICT is used.



Four years ago Marc Vreeswijk got me into contact with Nelson Rural School in Miramichi. I sent the school an email asking them if there were biology teachers who were interested to start a joint project. Todd Fitzpatrick, a teacher of Science at Nelson Rural School sent me an enthusiastic reply. As a result of the spacetrip of Dutch astronaut André Kuipers the school was participating in the project Seeds in Space (research growth of plants on earth and at ISS spacestation). We decided to experiment with the plants simultaneously, the same way this was done by André Kuipers at the ISS. Because of the time difference this was quite difficult. It resulted in an extensive emailcontact to tune down the experiments. Eventually we succeeded in bringing this project to a good end.


After this positive experience Todd and I decided to do another project (Environment and Health) the year after. Students were doing research on finding connections between the environment and health. Students in Canada were e.g. trying to find out how dumping toxic waste in the Miramichi river influences nature and health. Students at St. Canisius were e.g. trying to find out how animaldiseases affect our health. Students communicated by email (groups were matched). Due to the privacy policy clear arrangements had to be made on mailetiquette, Dutch students are a bit more boldly than the Canadians. The project was rounded off with a videoconference. Preparing this took up a lot of time, because a lot of things had to be geared to one another. The ICT-supervisor was of great importance and performed a good job. The students were really enthusiastic, after being a bit hesitant at first. Now they could finally see the person they were mailing with. In 2006 we did the project (incl. Videoconferencing) a second time.


Last schoolyear I worked together with Judson Waye for the first time, he is an other Science teacher of our twinschool. Judson is an enthusiastic teacher who likes to use ICT in the classroom. We contacted each other by email, but now we mainly talk with each other using Skype. The project we did was about global warming. Judson made a wiki for the subject Science: http://nelsonscience.wikispaces.com/

The practical thing about a wiki is that you can work on an assignment with more that one person at the same time (edit and save). Judson lets his students check the wiki and his own blog regularly. I suspect that Judson is one of the progressive teachers when it comes to using ICT in class, but he also knows how to adopt it. Because of the enthusiasm of Judson and the creativity I am also very enthusiastic about adopting all kinds of ICT-communicationtools.




A videoconference (also known as a videoteleconference) is technology which allows two or more locations to interact simultaneously via two-way video and audio transmissions. Here is a list of information to gather that should be passed onto your IT support person who is vital to the success of your videoconference.  There are other items listed below that should be considered.


  1. Information to gather from collaborative partners:
    1. Who the conference participants are

    2. Date and time of the conference

    3. Contact information for your partner's IT support

    4. IP address for IP conferences or ISDN for ISDN conferences

    5. Firewall & bandwith considerations

    6. If videoconference is going to be recorded, what process will be used?

  2. Technical 
    1. Determine the videoconferencing platform that will be used. (Polycom, Skype, Bridgit or other available system.). This could for example depend on technical opportunities. 
    2. Have a test session
    3. Make arrangements
    4. Exchange contact information depending on the platform being used. 
    5. Connect 10-15 minutes before the actual session takes place  
    6. Have a back-up form of communication that can be accessed in the same location as the videoconference  (e-mail, cellphone, telephone).
    7. Consider placement of camera 
  3. Organization
    1. Make reservations for equipment and check in advance
    2. Choose place where you want to have your session
    3. Think about time difference
    4. Setting
    5. Evaluative talks
  4. Further Considerations 
    1. Identify goals for the videoconference
    2. Netiquette (english speaking countries: speak slow, identify yourself before speaking, mute microphone if not speaking)
    3. Panel chairman or moderator to maintain focus and keep objectives in mind throughout the videoconference (especially with large groups).
    4. Prepare a list of possible questions to ask
    5. Anticipate (back up communication tool – e-mail)
    6. Write down the answers for the minutes
    7. Rounding off and make future arrangements


A Few Conferencing Options


Skype is a program you can use to have a telephone conversation through the Internet. It is free to download. You can phone (by means of a computer) other Skype-users for free. You need a microphone and a headset or you can communicate through a built-in microphone. There is also the option to look at each other via a webcam. Teachers can talk to each other in advance to make appointments. There are on-line help guides at http://skype.com/help




Bridgit is a conferencing software (server based) that allows you to share voice, video and files.  It also allows you to broadcast your desktop to conference participants.  When used with a SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard, participants can share & collaborate on SMART Notebook files.  http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/Bridgit/




Email Project

Tips to start an email project.

Make clear arrangements about:

  • When the emails must be sent? (e.g. one every 3-4 weeks)
  • How many emails will be sent to and from (e.g. start with 5 times and then evaluate and make further arrangements)
  • Make clear arrangements about the content of the emails (this can be very strict but it is also possible to let the pupils choose from a list of subjects – when doing this an advantage is, especially for the lower levels, that you can point them to pages in the book or pages on the Internet where they can find useful phrases. Together with your partner school decide on which topics will be used – they have different books so the subjects might be taught in a different order)
  • Upload content of e-mail (server capacity) / send e-mail with notification
  • Check e-mail once a day! (time difference)
  • Timeline e-mail project
  • Communication between teachers for evaluation.
  • Consider your information and communication technology policies (privacy policy) related to sharing student information. Some schools may not be able to exchange first and last names.
  • How do you mail?
    • Your students but also the students of the partner schools will not like it if they will not receive an email (therefore you will set some dates). A tip might be that the students first send it to the teacher and that the teacher will forward it. Disadvantage: as a teacher you will have more to administer and you will be busy. But there are also advantages: you can read what the pupils have written (and if you want to you can give marks) and you’ll know who has sent an email and who hasn’t. 
    • Make good arrangements about this with your partner school and have an ‘emergency’ plan. What will you do if a number of pupils do not receive emails? Etc.
  • Make sure that there is a good relation between the numbers of students
  • Similar age
  • Level of English must be more or less the same (English schools: proper English, no slang)
  • Make arrangements on how it will be marked.
  • Organization within the school
    • Book the computer room so that pupils can type their emails and send them to you. The pupils must have their email written down on paper before class starts, the lesson is just meant to type and send them (not everyone has their own computer at home with internet access). It is also an option to use laptops.
    • Make sure that the pupils have their own email address, or that you will have an email address ready for those who do not have one. Make sure that the pupils type their name and their partner’s name under ‘subject’.
    • The best thing is that everyone has their own emailaddress (the emails that you receive from the partnerschool can be printed or forwarded to your students); but if students don’t have an emailaddress (or if you have a joint emailaddress) make a print of it. Don’t send it to a fellow-pupil. Don’t assume that pupils will print each others emails.
    • Create an E-mailaddress especially for the project if possible.



The results of a project can be placed on a website to show everyone what you have created. Pupils (and teachers) are proud of their results and would like to share this online. Very often students are very enthusiastic about making websites with the help of so called ‘free websites’. Here pupils can build their own website online without needing a lot of computer knowledge. There are a lot of tutorials to be found on the Internet on how to make a (free) website. An example is  Weebly. Besides this one there are numerous other 'free website builders' to be found if you use a search engine.


It is wise to make arrangements in advance about the language used on the website and what the format will be. Students of the upper levels can write a website in a foreign language (with the help of their teacher) when you want to show the results to both schools. This also depends on the level of the students. However, very often keywords and pictures might be enough.


Guidelines should be identified between the partner schools regarding the website content. Visit the website once a day to maintain updates and provide a contact email on the site for any issues that may need to be reported.



A wiki is an application where you can jointly edit webdocuments on. A well-known example of a wiki is Wikipedia. The term is derived from wiki wiki, which is from Hawaiian and means ‘quick, active, lively’. What a wiki is and how it works can be seen on the movie below.


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When you want to create your own wiki you have to register at a wiki (e.g. www.wikispaces.com or www.pbwiki.com).


How to create a wiki: how to create a wiki.pdf 


Wiki etiquette

  • Be considerate - Please don't be rude or offensive.
  • Write in a way that is easy to understand and avoid using local slang or phrases. Many of those who will read your text may not have English as their first language.
  • Don't delete other people's contributions (unless you know what you are doing).
  • Don't insert your own opinion into (i. e., "correct") other people's signed contributions or append unsigned material that makes them appear to say what they did not say. If you wish to make an anonymous comment within a signed discussion, sign yourself anonymous.
  • Don't use too many acronyms.
  • Avoid the "click here" phrase. Don't say: "More info about shape can be found here" but use "More info about shape can be found at Basic Live Shapes". I'd suggest avoiding it for external links as well. 



A weblog, also called blog, is a website on which new contributions are added regularly – sometimes a couple of times a day – and where the offered information is shown back to front chronologically (the newest message will be shown first).


The person who visits a weblog will find the newest contribution on the first page. The author, also called blogger, offers us a diary of information he wants to share with his readers, the visitors of his weblog. Usually it is about text, but it can also be about pictures (a pictureblog), video (vlog) or audio (podcast).


With a new project a blog can be used to give up-to-date info about a processor product that is created. Pupils can also keep up with new developments. An example of this is Judson Waye’s blog (case).


In a few steps you can easily start your own blog, e.g. through blogger (select language: English)



  1. Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing guidelines

Videoconferencing cookbook

Videoconferencing in the classroom (register)


  1. E-mail

E-mail guidelines


  1. Wiki

What is a wiki? (how to use it in projects)

Wiki's in plain English (youtube movie)

How to use wiki?


  1. Blog

What is a blog? (wikipedia)

Create your blog (set your own language)    


  1. Skype

What is skype?


  1. Smartboard




Do's and Don'ts

  • Start simple
  • Ask the ICT-group for ideas
  • A lot of information can be found on the net, e.g. Kennisnet (a lot of projectideas; emailprojects to… Learning Circle)
  • Listen and look at what your colleagues do.
  • In advance think of which ICT-tool you want to use during the project (e.g. website, wiki, video conference etc.) and what the extra value is for pupils and teachers. 
  • If you don’t have ict experience, do not start working on a big ict-project
  • Just send an email to make the first contact.
  • Find out if there is a need for an international project within the different departments of the school.
  • Create a platform to share ideas and materials 


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