Students Get Insights into the Lives of their Peers

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Globalization has arrived. Are schools prepared for it? How can Technology help?

Joe Troyen is the Founder of PenPal Schools, an organization that connects over 300,000 students from 150 countries to learn together through collaborative online projects. “Teachers used to be interested in connecting globally to bring more global awareness into their classroom, but now teachers are more excited about connecting globally to collaborate, create, and deepen the learning experience for students,” says Troyen. The learning supported by the PenPal platform goes beyond communication skills such as reading and writing to digital citizenship and social and emotional skills. Troyen says that teachers now see the value of global connections for subjects such as science and math.

To date, PenPal Schools has connected 326,000 students from over 8,000 schools in 150 different countries. A big challenge for the initiative was school administrator buy-in. “When principals just hear the name and don’t take a closer look, they may not think it’s worth the class time. That’s why we’ve really made learning the focus of everything and aligned all content to academic standards,” explains Troyen.

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