Beta: Thinkalong Introduces "Connected Classrooms"

Happy student listening a video tutorial on line with a laptop sitting in a bar terrace

We're making it easier than ever for students to share ideas and debate in an online forum. With our new Connected Classrooms feature, students can interact with their peers across the nation in a safe space for collaboration. We believe it can be especially instructive and edifying for students to hear the perspectives of their peers across town, across the state, or even the country.

Help us beta test the video debates and improve Thinkalong for all students.

How does it work?

We at Connecticut Public Learning will pair classrooms in a matchmaking process. First, educators or youth group leaders can sign up for a particular debate topic. Next, we find a class interested in the same topic, and we help to facilitate the debate by connecting you in a private, online video conference at an agreed-upon time. If you're interested in trying a virtual debate with your students, sign up here.

Who is eligible for a virtual debate?

Currently, we are making the beta program available to middle school educators who will help us, through their feedback, to improve the Connected Classrooms process and experience. High school teachers will be able to sign up for virtual debates in the future.

What's the format of the debate?

Thinkalong's primary mission is to create an easily accessible forum for student discussion. This means that both debate pros and novices are welcome here. Virtual debates are 30 minutes long, which gives both classrooms ample time to deepen their understanding of the topics and create new connections with their peers.

What are the time and technology requirements?

Virtual debates are 30 minutes long, but preparation time will vary based on the needs of your classroom. To participate, you'll need a device with a camera, microphone, speakers, and an internet connection (like a desktop or a laptop computer.) That's it—no additional accounts or downloads. If you do have a video conference room available for your classroom use, that's great, too! Note: We may have to test that privacy firewalls and other security measures particular to your school or facility will enable this connection.

How does this work with a large classroom?

Before the online debate, have your students complete the Investigate and Contemplate steps of the topic's module. Students should have time in class to discuss the sources with each other beforehand. During the online debates, the entire class will work together to present their evidence and points of view by choosing classroom representatives.

What if I have suggestions?

The Connected Classrooms feature is in beta mode, meaning that we're trying new things to find the best possible fit for educators. If you have a cool, new method that we should know about, reach out and let us know!

How do I get started?

Getting started is super easy! Find a topic you want to discuss with your students and click here to start the matchmaking process.