FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Are Learning Circles and iEARN projects the same?
No, Learning Circles is one of a hundred or so projects sponsored by iEARN. Learning Circles is popular because many teachers find that the best way to learn about telecollaborative project work is by participating in Learning Circles.

Why do teachers often join Learning Circles as their first experience with telecollaborative project work?
Learning Circles is different than most projects because it has a very structured timeline and schedule. Teachers also appreciate that they are grouped with other teachers and classrooms around the world based on age level and project interest.

How do I register for Learning Circles?
To register for iEARN Learning Circles, you must first be a member of iEARN and register in the iEARN Collaboration Centre two weeks before the beginning of the session. To complete this form you will need a valid iEARN username and password. If you do not remember your username and password please contact iEARN tech support.

Is there a cost for participating in Learning Circles?
There is no cost for registering for Learning Circles, but you must me a member of iEARN. In order to join iEARN please see the information on the iEARN Web pages.

How do I find out information about other iEARN projects?
Each iEARN project has its own interactive forum and some have Web pages. Each project has its own registration process. A good way to find out information about all the ieARN projects is to download the iEARN Project Book: http://www.iearn.org/projects/projectbook.html. This book describes all the projects and the registration requirements.

I have registered for Learning Circles, but no one has contacted me, how do I know if I am registered?
If you have filled out a placement form correctly you should receive a message that your registration was successful. Participants who sign up for Learning Circles are contacted after the registration deadlines (September 15th and January 15th).

What happens after the September and January 15th registration deadlines?
The registration process contains two phases. The first phase is the online registration. The second phase requires that you confirm your registration. After September and January 15th you will be contacted with a personal email that explains the participation commitments for Learning Circles. You are asked to carefully read this messages and respond by email. Your registration will not be complete until you have responded by email.

Will I get my first project choice?
Every effort is made to provide participants with their first project choice. Unfortunately, there is limited space in each Learning Circle group. Groups are filled on a first response basis so it is important to confirm your registration in a timely manner.

How much time does it take to complete Learning Circles?
The time required to adequately participate in the project varies depending on the teacher. Since Learning circles is managed locally by individual teachers the time you dedicate to the project depends on your level of commitment and educational goals for the project. Generally teachers find that in the beginning weeks teachers may spend one or two hours per week on the project. When the project progresses to the exchange and publication of student work this time commitment can easily increase to one to one and a half hours per day.

What kind of support will I get with Learning Circles?
Learning Circles are supported fully from start to finish. First, the entire project is explained in detailed written form in the online Teachers' Guide to Learning Circles. Second, each Circle group has a group facilitator to answer questions and guide you through the project. Third, each phase of the Learning circle process begins with a Circle News messages that gives a detailed description of the tasks to accomplish. This message also provides ideas and links to resources. Fourth, you are always welcome to contact the Learning Circle Coordinator, Barry Kramer, who will answer your questions and help to to gain the information and support you need.

How do I communicate with the other members of my Learning Circle group?
Learning Circles can be completely accomplished simply using email. You can have all messages posted to your Learning Circle sent directly to your email address. If you do not wish to have these email sent to you you can also access all messages directly through the iEARN Interactive Forums. Direct links to the forums for your group can be found on the Learning Circles homepage.

I do not seem to be receiving Learning Circle email messages from the iEARN forums, what is wrong?
The most likely problem is that your email program has identified Learning Circle messages as SPAM and is rejecting them. Learning Circle messages are sent to an email address that automatically posts each message in an iEARN interactive forum. The forum will then distribute each message to your email address. These messages are sent as group messages and many email programs identify them as SPAM and either put them in a SPAM folder or reject them. If this happens to you then the first thing to do is to contact your network administrator and ask to have the email address of your forum designated as acceptable. If this is still a problem then teachers often use a gmail, yahoo, or hotmail account. Other teachers opt to read and post their messages directly through the iEARN learning circles forum.

How can I access my messages in the iEARN Interactive Forums using the Internet?
To see all the messages that have been posted in your group you can always go to the iEARN Learning Circles Interactive Forums.

  1. Go to the Learning Circles homepage at: http://www.iearn.org/circles/
  2. About 2/3 of the way down the page you will find an area called Learning Circle Forums. There is also a quick link to this location near the top of the page.
  3. When you are at the Learning Circle Forums click on your forum. Example: ppe1 Places and Perspectives -- elementary school level
  4. This will open up the iEARN Interactive Forums. You will have to provide your iEARN User Name and Password. When you have done this the link will take you directly to the forum. In the forum you can see all the messages that have been posted.
  5. Please note that messages that are replies often embed themselves in other messages. You will actually have to open all messages to see all that have been posted. One discussion may have many messages attached to it.

Can I give students their own user names and passwords so that they can access the Learning Circle forums online?
Yes, teachers can give students access to the Learning Circle project discussion forums through their iEARN teacher accounts. The information on how to do this can be found on the following iEARN Web page (the information is about one third of the way down the page):

Giving Students Their own User Names

How can I post large files to share with the other members of my Learning Circle?
Files that are sent as attachments to Learning Circle email messages have a maximum size of 2 Mb for e-mail attachments in order to protect e-mail boxes in some countries.

The preferred way to share PowerPoint, Pdfs, and sound files is to upload them in the Web-based forum for your Learning Circle. To do this go to the iEARN forum for your Learning Circle and click on "Add: Discussion" at the bottom. Open up the Add a File link and attach your file to your message. Make sure you fill in all the required fields of information (Attachment title, Summary, Keywords, Description, Creator).

Your file will be posted in the media album and will be available to all the participants in your Circle. The forum will automatically send a message to everyone in your group. Let them know that your larger file is in the media album so they can download it.

When you submit your message and attachments, they will appear as a thumbnail in the discussion area.  If you click on the thumbnail, they can be then viewed and listened to in the album for your Learning Circle. PowerPoints and Pdfs need to be downloaded from the album.  Photos, movies, sound, etc. can be viewed inside the album.

Please read the following tutorial for more information: Tutorial for using iEARN's Collaboration Center

An easy solution is to post your project in the iEARN multimedia album. You can post projects up to 50 MB. The direct link is: http://media.iearn.org/gallery
The place to upload your project can be found at the lower left hand corner. You will need your iEARN login and password. After you do this you can send a link to all the participants in your group and they can download it from there.