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Connecting With Global Classrooms: Using Virtual Exchange for International and Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 105AB

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Senior Program Officer
US Department of State
Jamila Barton is a Program Officer for the Office of English Language Programs at the US State Department. She engages international English language teachers and learners through social media and virtual exchanges. Before this, she provided English language teacher development as an English language fellow in Jordan and a virtual English language specialist in Brazil. She has an MA in TESOL, taught ESOL for 22 years, and conducted teacher training for 10 years in the US and abroad. She is currently pursuing a doctoral candidate in Applied Linguistics/ESL with a focus on teaching academic literacy using technology and data-driven learning.
Content Development Editor, English Language Learning Materials
U.S. Department of State/ ECA
Jacqueline Gardy is a Virtual Exchange Specialist and materials editor in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the Office of English Language Programs. Prior to this, she was an English Language Fellow in Novi Sad, Serbia, through the State Department’s English Language Fellow Program, and was a high school ESOL teacher and community college ESL teacher. She has been on the board of the ISTE Online and Blended Learning Network and the M-Education Alliance. Her interests are in design thinking, edtech in low-resourced environments, and creative thinking.
Executive Director
Take Action Global
Dr. Jennifer Williams has dedicated herself for 25 years to the field of education through her roles as an education activist, professor, school administrator, literacy specialist, and classroom teacher. As an educator and author of the ISTE book, Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good, she champions teachers to use educational technology purposefully for the planet and its people​. She is the co-founder of TeachSDGs and the non-profit organization Take Action Global. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter at @JenWilliamsEdu and at

Session description

How does virtual exchange harness the power of education and community for global impact? In this session, the speakers will discuss the development and outcomes of short-term virtual exchanges and how they can enhance equity-based practices in the classroom through developing mutual understanding and critical-thinking skills.

Purpose & objective

How does virtual exchange harness the power of education and community for global impact? In this session, the speakers will discuss the past, present, and future of virtual exchange programming, including a deep-dive into the pilot program where educators designed and implemented educational projects that used comics to teach American culture, English, and media literacy. Virtual exchange offers a way for classrooms to connect with the world, share perspectives and ideas, and request feedback from an authentic global audience of peers and experts. This session will showcase ways PreK-12 classrooms can use global collaboration and virtual exchange to take action on global issues. Participants will discover ways to use edtech social good with topics that matter to young people, such as human rights, climate change, creative expression, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Participants will come away with a better understanding of how virtual exchange can harness the power of education and community for global impact, encompassing story creation and storytelling, mutual understanding, critical thinking, and equity-based practices.

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5 minutes - Welcome, introductions, overview
5 minutes - Review objectives of session
5 minutes - Define: What is virtual exchange?
15 minutes - Inspiration: What is possible? Virtual exchange exemplars, Showcase global examples
15 minutes - Ideation: How to get started and take action? Guided action process, Virtual exchange step-by-step
10 minutes - Implementation: What supports are available to ensure equitable access to virtual exchange? Build your toolkit with resources, tech
tools, projects, and organizations, time for Q&A (through use of interactive technologies)
5 minutes - Closing: Let’s keep the conversation going!

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Supporting research

Allen, L. Q. (2010). The Impact of Study Abroad on the Professional Lives of World Language Teachers. Foreign Language Annals; Alexandria, 43(1), 93–104.
Cosgun, G. E., & Savaş, P. (2019). Use of Information and Communication Technology by In-Service English Teachers for Self-Directed Professional Development. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 16(2), 230–249.
Hilliker, S. (2020). Virtual Exchange as a Study Abroad Alternative to Foster Language and Culture Exchange in TESOL Teacher Education. TESL-EJ, 23(4).
Hilliker, S. M., & Loranc, B. (2022). Development of 21st century skills through virtual exchange. Teaching and Teacher Education, 112.
Jawas, U. (2020). Cultural Diversity and Its Influence on English Teaching and Learning in an EFL Context. International Journal of Instruction, 13(4), 559–574.
LaGarde, J., & Hudgins, D. (2018). Fact vs. fiction: teaching critical thinking skills in the age of fake news (First edition.). International Society for Technology in Education.
Muhammad, G., Love, B. L., & Scholastic Inc.,. (2020). Cultivating genius: An equity framework for culturally and historically responsive literacy.
Paik, S. J., Ganley, D. E., Luschei, T. F., Kula, S. M., Witenstein, M. A., Shimogori, Y., & Truong, K. K. (2015). Intercultural exchange among global teachers: The case of the teaching excellence and achievement study abroad program. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 49, 100–113.
Wang, D. (2014). Effects of Study Abroad on Teachers’ Self-perceptions: A Study of Chinese EFL Teachers. Journal of Language Teaching & Research, 5(1), 70–79.
Williams, J. (2019). Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good. International Society for Technology in Education.
Williams, J. (2020). Educators are the global goals. Childhood Education, 96(5), 22-29, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2020.1824493.
Williams, J. (2020). Explorers for the Global Goals. Project Everyone.
Williams, J. (2021). Persisting with hope. Curriculum Insights Magazine, 2(1), 62-63.
Williams, J. (2021). The Global Goals: An epic list for learning and action. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from:
Williams, J. (2021). These activities encourage youth to investigate the world with purpose. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from:
Williams, J. (2021). Your SDGs to do list. Education Canada Magazine, 61(1).
Williams, J. (2022). Creating projects for the planet: SDGs in practice. International Council of Teachers of English, 6, 18-21.
Yansyah. (2021). Do MOOCs Help Indonesian EFL teachers Shape Their Professional Development Virtually? Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 18(1), 60–73.

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Session specifications

Digital citizenship
Grade level:
Skill level:
Professional developers, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
Subject area:
ISTE Standards:
For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Model digital citizenship by critically evaluating online resources, engaging in civil discourse online and using digital tools to contribute to positive social change.
For Educators:
  • Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
  • Use collaborative tools to expand students' authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.