Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Social Learning

Our school is in a small, rural community in South Carolina. Our student population is fairly homogeneous. With limited resources, many of our students rarely travel far from home. Opportunities to meet and learn from students in other states and other countries are virtually nonexistent. However, the Internet provides a way to create these opportunities...virtually. In my personal mission statement, I acknowledge my responsibility to help my students become responsible, ethical citizens of their school, their community, and their world. One way to accomplish that is to provide opportunities to participate in distance learning with students around the world.

Web resources are a wonderful addition to the instructional tools available to teachers today. Our text lists resources such as webquests, wikis, email pen pals, and collaborative organizing through calendar services (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K, 2007). This week, I was notified that a cooperative learning project I proposed has been funded. In this project, my students will investigate issues related to the availability of clean, safe drinking water. As they research and test local water sources, I would like for them to collaborate on this project with students in a distant location. Our text mentioned email pen pal services as a way to make the necessary contacts. Another resource that is highly recommended is the Flat Classroom Project ( ).

Cooperative learning projects are an important part of our curriculum, yet the opportunities for exposure to new or different ideas are limited. My hope is that virtual collaborative projects such as this will make global issues more real and relevant to students who have little knowledge of the world outside of their county or state. Social learning will then be a much more powerful experience for these students.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Hi Susanna,
    I am in agreement with you 100% that many of our students in the rural areas really don't know what's out there or even how to get there. With our situation, I think implementing the virtual field trips that we learned about this year is a great way for our rural students to see more than just the four walls of their homes and schools.

  2. I also agree. The next genius could be sitting there not challenged due to where he or she lives. That is why I am glad to be working for an online k-12 education provider. You can learn more and help share the knowledge of them at
    or in other states at

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  6. As someone who went to a small town public school, it's great to know that technology is slowly but surely leveling the educational playing field.