Beyond the Walls Globe

Educators are using web-based communication programs to bring experts into the classroom, collaborate with other classrooms across the globe, connect with guest readers, and to reach learners in a virtual environment for instruction or support. This Thing will demonstrate some of the digital resources available to improve communication today. We will be focusing on the use of free chat services on the web and Skype to communicate with students, authors, scientists, other classrooms, and community experts.

Communicating in the 21st Century

Collaborating, communicating, and learning is accessible 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (24/7) around the world. Educators and classrooms can reach beyond physical boundaries to communicate and share through the use of a variety of FREE tools. These generally fall into two categories: asynchronous (does not need to be communicating at the same moment in time), and synchronous (live, at the same time, at a distance). This short video compares and contrasts synchronous and asynchronous forms of communication online.





Resource Name Age Level Description



Backchannel Chat

K-12 Backchannel chats allow students to network in real-time with others online. Consider these 10 reasons why you should try a backchannel chat. Since you control the chat room availability this is a good place to practice digital etiquette online. There is no software installation needed, and these are FREE and easy to use. Backchats are easily saved or printed for later reference as well. Here is a more recent article on using backchannels for blended learning. (June 2018- Several of the resources are no longer available, but the tips for using them are still very relevant.)

Google Meet


3-12 Google Meet (formally Google Hangouts) is an easy way to connect with students or colleagues. Think about sharing with students who are out sick or missed class due to other obligations, reviewing procedures with colleagues the night before a field trip, or using it for a small study group. You can have either a text chat or a video call hangout. To learn how to use Google Hangouts Meet, visit the Google support page.



K-12 Skype is an online service which uses VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). To create a free Skype account and learn more, visit the Skype support page. For ideas on how to use Skype in the classroom, visit Microsoft Skype in the Classroom.  Schools that sign up for Office 365 for Education are able to access an enhanced version of Skype that allows you to have up to 1000 users on a single session. You can share content for all to see, draw on a whiteboard, record conversations, create polls and Q&A sessions. Imagine running a class on a snow day or for students unable to attend class due to an illness!

Twitter and LinkedIn


There are numerous educators on Twitter that are connecting, communicating and learning from one another. They are building some global relationships that will be invaluable to the future of their own professional development as well as their schools.

Twitter has made a bigger impact on professional learning than any professional development opportunity in recent years. The learning is real, the ideas are powerful yet simple, and the connections to resources and people are infinite.

LinkedIn Linkedin
LinkedIn is a social networking site designed for professionals to connect and communicate with each other to share information, professional conversations, and assist with job searches. Unlike other social networking sites, LinkedIn focuses on career exploration and growth. Many educators use LinkedIn to connect with other friends, educators, and people they know in the business world.