How to Find International Partners

This is an update of a previous post from six years ago! Time to refresh!

So, you want to connect with an international school for a videoconference. Now what do you do? Here’s how I find international partner classes for my teachers.

First, think about times

Before you even start looking for a partner, do a self-check.

  • What time zone are you in? (www.timeanddate.com is a great site for help with time zones!)
  • Are you willing to connect outside of your school hours?
  • If you are willing to connect outside of school hours, how far outside of school hours? Will you have a slumber party at school? Can you only do evenings? Can you do early mornings?
  • If you are not willing to connect outside of school hours, you will need to look at time zones to find the countries that are in session at the same time as you are in session. Do NOT approach an international school and expect them to connect outside of school hours. That is very inconsiderate! Often there are safety and transportation issues for students at international schools to come back to school in the evening.

Then, get on timeanddate.com and get familiar with the time differences between your location and your desired connection location. See if you can figure out ahead of time what will work best.

Second, what do you want to do?

National collaborations between classes are hard enough if your idea is ambiguous. International connections are even more so.

You will get a much better response if you have a very specific idea of what you want to do and when you want to do it (date & time defined but negotiable is best).

Also, make sure that your plans are sensitive to the other country/culture. For example, one of my teachers once wanted to do a collaboration on the U.S. Revolutionary War with the U.K. Well, I know from previous collaborations that the U.S. Revolutionary War isn’t in their curriculum the same as ours. So be sensitive and thoughtful. Think about the content from their perspective if you can. Make sure your plans are open to negotiation as well.

Now, hunt for an international partner

  1. Search CAPspace by country. Don’t post a collaboration looking for an international connection. There are tons of U.S. educators who don’t need the email. Instead, Search People by country. Get their email address and email them directly with your proposal/idea.
  2. Search CILC by country. Go to Videoconference Directories, search by country name in the keyword field. Get the contact email address and email them directly.
  3. Network. Meet people where ever you can! Some places to start include Megaconference Jr., ISTE, and ISTE’s SIG IVC. The more people you meet doing VC, the more connections you make and the more you share collaborations. I carefully save contact info for everyone who emails me and keep folders for states & countries where I know someone doing VC.
  4. Listservs.Megaconference Jr. has a listserv, and even though Megaconference is no longer happening, there is a vibrant community on the listserv (mostly higher ed but they can get you K12 contacts). In addition, on the megaconference websites you can find lists of participants. Just google their school, hunt around on their website, and you can usually find the VC contact person’s email address.
  5. International programs. Did you ever notice you can search content providers by country on VCContentProviders.org? Also when participating in global programs such as those from Global Nomads and Global Education Motivators, you often connect with classes from other countries and therefore can meet and collect contacts that way.

Note: These sites are for advanced H.323 videoconferencing. You can find more sites for Skype here.

Maximize A Response

Now, before you send that email, double check to make sure you have increased the likelihood of getting a response:

  • Did you include a suggested date & time in your time zone AND their time zone?
  • Did you let them know you are flexible on the time?
  • Did you detail specifically what you want each class to do? Did you indicate that you’re willing to negotiate this part also?
  • Is your message easily readable, scan-able, and clear?

Finally, be patient and persistent!

Your Turn

  • What tips would you add?
  • What successes have you had?
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About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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2 Responses to How to Find International Partners

  1. Great post, Janine. I just wanted to let everyone know that you can also search the Videoconferencing Directory on http://www.cilc.org by typing in the word Skype. If the post contains the word, it will show up as a choice!

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