Flat Connections

Transforming learning through global collaboration

By Juliet Evans, Claudia Felske, Bill Krakower, Kim Powell

"Nice to Meet us" ; )


What is a handshake and why is it important?

A handshake is an introduction, or greeting from one person to another.  This can take place in the form of a virtual meeting through Skype or video conferencing tool, through an email, or through a web 2.0 tool to share a little bit about yourself.  This handshake begins a personal connection that will promote engagement and interactions among others as the project and collaborations continue.  It is very important for students and or teachers to feel connected with one another to provide an engaging and meaningful learning experience with the project.  This handshake validates the connection among others, and will provide an outlet to build the relationship as time develops.  

Why students at this age need to create a handshake 

Handshakes are important at the 7-11 age level since students are just starting their education careers and should learn ways in which to greet people in the 21st Century.  Students will be working with other students that they never have met before a handshake is a great way in which students can learn about one another when they may not be sitting right next to each other in the same class but working collaboratively miles apart. The handshake symbolizes a starting point in which the students introduce each other and become familiar with one another.  They get to learn about each other and find out different interesting facts.  Virtual handshakes also helps as an ice breakers for students to start to collaborate on projects when they are first starting to work together.

Our Animoto Handshake    

After considering numerous Web 2.0 tools for our Handshake, our group settled on Animoto. We wanted a tool that would give students an opportunity to efficiently introduce themselves while taking advantage of the immediate and highly-engaging nature of multimedia. We also needed a tool that would be fairly quick and intuitive to learn and  would not require special equipment.  

Animoto fit the bill. Students don’t need headsets, mics, webcams. Even if students don’t have images, music, or video of their own, they can use items from the Animoto gallery along with their original text to quickly create a professional-looking, engaging product. Their videos can then be easily posted or embedded and commented upon by their global classmates.

This provides students an opportunity to learn a new (and free)  tool, create an interesting portrait of themselves, get to know each other, and start the global dialogue before the project begins. It struck us as the ideal tool to use for a Global Project Handshake.  

The task itself: Students will create a 30-second Animoto Video which introduces them to their global classmates while meeting the following criteria:

  1. It must contain Images or video, music, and text.
  2. It must tell at least 3 things about you. (Examples: something about your family, something you like to do, a favorite movie, song, book or quote).
  3. It must be polite and appropriate.

Later, students must then watch and comment upon 5 student videos (as assigned).  Comments must be polite, must refer specifically to something in the video, and must also say something about you (the commenter).

See our sample handshakes above or here (BillClaudiaJulietKim) where we put ourselves in our students' shoes by creating our own Animoto handshakes and then commenting on each other's. 

Further Reflection

A student-created handshake can be used in numerous ways within the curriculum regardless of whether a global project is in progress or not. At the beginning of the school year, it can introduce classmates to each other and to their teacher. It provides a venue for students to demonstrate their creativity, media and visual communication skills. It allows for discussion of our digital footprint and of the image we choose to present to others. As part of a global project, discussion of cultural aspects will naturally arise, as students watch each others’ handshakes and notice similarities and differences among other countries or cultures and their own.

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Comment by Barbara Stefanics on May 10, 2013 at 4:29pm

Simply brillant - I am off to investigate more 'handshake' ideas!

Comment by Julie Lindsay on May 9, 2013 at 5:54pm

I know more about each one of you know - even after being in meetings and reading other online material from you. That is what I really love about Animoto - and it does keep getting better with new templates and affects etc. Maybe we should make this a requirement for joining the FCCT course?


Project Manager
Comment by Yvonne Caples on May 4, 2013 at 10:15pm

Love your examples...they made me smile!  And I think kids will have the same response when they get involved with the handshake.  It's a simple, creative way for kids to introduce themselves.  I also like that you thought to assign students to comment on others, to ensure that they everyone will get comments!  

Project Manager
Comment by Sandy Wisneski on May 4, 2013 at 1:50pm

Well-planned rational for your handshakes. Fun use for Animoto and I enjoyed seeing each of your examples! Claudia, I didn't realize you were in WI.

Comment by akram on April 30, 2013 at 8:47am

Nicely done! I like the detailed reading of integrating animoto and the guidance around posting comments. Enjoyed the post. 

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