By Davey Young at A.C.E.–This morning I sat down at my desk and asked myself, as I often do, “what can I put on the blog today?” The answer I came up with did not, in fact, have anything to do with on-line communities for international students and educators. I thought I’d throw a little something together on current trends in international education. I quickly discovered what you may already be thinking: that’s a big bite to chew. Regardless, I figured I could provide a general lay of the land, offer a few links, and go on with my daily duties here at A.C.E. HQ. Instead, I stumbled into a realm of the internet I never knew existed, though was not to surprised to see. This realm is the world of–you guessed it–on-line communities and networking sites for international students and educators. Being who I am and doing what I do, I dove right in.
Here is a sampling of what I found:
http://studyabroadalumni.ning.com/: Ever study abroad? Continue the mindset, if not the lifestyle, by connecting with thousands of members from around the globe at Study Abroad Alumni.
http://globaleducation.ning.com/: This site, for the Global Education Collaborative, exists purely for international students and teachers to connect and, well, collaborate. I like this site because it promotes collaboration over more traditional, self-serving networking. One of the very few prompts when signing up and completing your profile is “What international projects are you working on?”
http://connect.state.gov/: ExchangesConnect is, interestingly enough, sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The interface feels an awful lot like Facebook and allows a great deal of interaction, from forming groups to posting videos. The branding downplays the educational aspect of the site, calling itself an “international social network,” but it’s fairly clear that people aren’t talking tabloid news here.
http://greenpassport.ning.com/: Here is a great resource for people who take an environmental approach to multiculturalism and international education. The Green Passport Pledge reads: “I acknowledge the interconnectedness of the world’s people and the environment. I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of studying, living, working, traveling, or volunteering abroad and will try to improve these aspects of my international experience.”
http://buildingbridgescoalition.ning.com/: The Building Bridges Coalition is a project of the Brookings Institution’s Initiative on International Volunteering and Service. This consortium of universities, government agencies, volunteer organization and corporations wants to double the number of international volunteers by 2010. Ambitious, perhaps, but a noble goal.
There are more, but I think this list is fairly representative of what’s available. NAFSA, Fulbright, and other similar organizations all offer some form of on-line networking for their members, but all five of the options I listed above are free to join. That said, you can look me up on-line with the Global Education Collaborative or ExchangesConnect.