What does it look like to connect classrooms across the world? Last year I shared Empatico on my blog. This year I had to chance to meet some folks behind this fantastic resource for educators. If you haven’t heard of Empatico before, they are a totally free, online tool for teachers designed to facilitate connections between classrooms around the world. Using live streaming video, students can learn about life in other countries as they build empathy and content knowledge.
The team at Empatico has been super busy since I first featured them last year. Empatico is now in over six hundred classrooms, connecting more than fifty countries and territories. In the United States, they’ve seen participation from classes in almost every state!
How To Use Empatico
With Empatico, the matching is all done for you. This means you can save time trying to find a classroom across the world to connect to during the school year. Empatico gives educators access to activities, video and chat features, and extra resources all in one place.
Since Empatico works on the web, there’s nothing extra to download. You can sign up for a free account on their website and choose the activities that connect to your learning goals for students. After you indicate your weekly availability, Empatico will match you with another classroom. You can then virtually meet your matched teacher and choose the time your classes will connect. Empatico will guide you through the tech setup… and then it’s time to connect your classes!
Right now the folks at Empatico are working to add new activities, translate the site to more languages, and make it possible for classes to take part in asynchronous activities. With these type of activities, you can still connect with a classroom even if they attend school during a timezone that doesn’t match up with the hours in your school day.
Connect Classrooms Across the World
The team at Empatico has created a handful of activities designed to make the most of a 30 to 40-minute live video interaction between classes. You can check out the activity overviews on their website and see the variety of options. The “Weather Out the Window” activity is perfect for making cross-curricular connections. In this activity, students learn about the weather in different parts of the world. The “Community Cartographers” activity is all about making maps and learning about the perspectives of others.
In my book, Tasks Before Apps I discuss the importance of connecting students with an audience. It can provide relevancy and context for student creations and help them see the value and impact of their work. What I love about Empatico is the emphasis they place on the importance of building empathy. The more we can do as educators to connect students with the world, the better prepared they are for their interactions outside of the classroom.
Imagine your students are about to read a current events article or a story that takes place on the other side of the world. Students can connect with classrooms in the same setting of their stories, or with students who experience world events — all through the power of Empatico.
Learn more about Empatico by visiting their website!