Global Learning: Virtual Online Exchanges

Annie Wendel, as part of the K-12 global learning series

Becoming globally competent does not require students and educators to travel abroad. There are financial, health, and time restrictions that prevent this from being a realistic option for all. However, there are numerous ways to achieve hands-on, experiential learning with a focus on a new international culture with tech-based programming, partnerships, and cross-cultural dialogue. Programs differ in cost from free to fee-based depending on level of technology support and services.

EFF Sprout Innovation Fund

Education Fast Forward Sprout Innovation Fund is a free 9-week course for participants 13-30 years old. The program gives access to an online community, technical support, 6 weeks of collaborative online learning, 2 weeks independent global project development. Participation is free and an application is required.

Flat Connections

Global Youth Debates are asynchronous, online global debates and provide a unique global collaborative experience for joining diverse cultures in authentic debate to foster global competence, international mindedness, and action.

Global Buddy

The Global Buddy program matches schools from its global network and helps them to connect, involving thousands of students from schools across five continents. Programming is free and most include regularly scheduled video conferences as an in-class or after-school activity. Other programs include interaction of individual students using social networking tools.

Global Nomads Group

  1. Campfire is a virtual exchange program that leverages technology to enable meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and collaborations. Utilizing project-based curriculum, students work together with a partner classroom from another country to explore global citizenship
  2. Youth Voices connects classrooms across the world through shared curricula, an online platform, a global citizenship project, and interactive videoconferences (IVCs). These tools allow students to connect in real-time for face-to-face intercultural dialogue.
  3. Pulse Programs are virtual town hall meetings that give students a forum to deliberate some of the most challenging issues. These interactive live-stream programs offer students the opportunity to learn from guest speakers and exchange perspectives with their peers using a live chat function.

International Virtual Schooling

The K-12 Virtual Classroom Exchange Program invites students to complete global projects, post to IVECA discussion boards, and provide feedback and share ideas with global classrooms.

Peace Corps Coverdell World Wise Schools

The Peace Corps Coverdell World Wise Schools program strives to help U.S. schoolchildren better understand and appreciate the diverse cultures and issues of the world by communicating with a Peace Corps Volunteer overseas through an exchange of letters, artifacts, photos, and artwork.

Reach the World

Reach the World provides direct programming to school, afterschool, and summer school sites in New York City, and online programming to sites nationwide. Through its interactive website, RTW enriches the curriculum by connecting classrooms to volunteer world travelers who are studying or exploring around the globe.  RTW identifies and trains volunteer travelers, manages web-based journalistic content posted weekly by these travelers, and delivers training and support to the schools in its programs.

UN Volunteers

UNV operates an online volunteering initiative for those looking to contribute to global development. Students over 18 can apply to undertake web-based volunteer assignments for UN entities, NGOs, local governments, and educational institutions. Assignments are very flexible and can be as short as an hour or can last months.


Series author Annie Wendel was recently accepted as a fellowship graduate student at Merrimack University to pursue an M.Ed. in Community Engagement. Due to a long-standing passion for global citizenship and social justice, coupled with critical questioning and hard-nosed analysis, Annie has long been a friend of globalsl.org, repeatedly interning for the network and moving our work forward. She is currently completing programming with the Wyman Teen Outreach Program in middle and high schools in the Greater New Haven area in Connecticut, implementing a positive youth development curriculum and organizing community service-learning opportunities for students. She has also learned and served elsewhere in the States, Nepal, South Africa, and the Solomon Islands. After graduate school, she hopes to continue to pursue global education through experiential models and service-learning programs.

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