1. If you live in the U.S, you need to do extra leg work. There are many, many teachers here in the states looking to collaborate; far less in other countries. Don't post on ePals and expect to get a million replies. Spend the time reading other classes bio's and write to them.
2. If following previous advice, write a form letter and copy and paste it to as many profiles as possible. You also want to email back and forth several times before beginning just to make sure the other teacher will follow through.
3. Don't email teachers if you aren't ready to begin SOON. I know some of us (re: me) like to plan ahead, but teachers lose interest if there is too much lag time.
4. Don't discount collaborations within the states. One of my most successful collaborations was with a teacher in rural Wisconsin whose students were very different than my urban NJ class.
5. Have very clear expectations for your students. The best collaborations have structured emails and/or contact points. What do you expect as an outcome? What standards are you trying to cover? What will the students ultimately be asked to do?
6. Try various platforms. Be open to new possibilities. Don't let failure with one project cause you to lose faith in all projects. Even my toughest students light up when they receive an email from their partners. Most of all, have fun!
Here are the platforms I have used:
ePals: Staple, great way to start. Lessons are already created and well structured, and it is well established. Most popular on ePals are the National Geographic projects, which have various themes such as weather, holidays and customs, cultural identity, and digital storytelling.
Quadblogging: Awesome concept. This was one of my failures as the other teachers didn't' follow through, but I did just sign up for a second try. Basically it functions as a way to get readers for your class blog. Each week, one of the four (quad) classroom blogs is the focus. The other three classes visit the blog and comment on the posts.
CapSpace: Very cool site for one time collaborations via video conferencing. Lots of opportunities here. The focus with this venue is the video conference aspect. It usually isn't a prolonged exchange. We used CapSpace once for a one time Holocaust Survivor presentation and back channel, and another time for a (prolonged) international mock trial project.
Penpalnews: This is a great concept that I just signed two of my teachers up for. The students are matched with another class. They are given a selection of current event articles to choose from. The students read and comment on the articles and then share them with their partner. Great way to learn about culture and focus on informational reading and writing.
iEARN: Just made the decision to sign our school up for this platform. Like ePals, it is well established and has solid projects. Looking forward to helping our teachers use this site. As a bonus it has two BlackBoard rooms for members to use.
Sites I am going to try:
Global Nomads: I just found out about this site from the global education conference. It looks great. http://www.gng.org/
Global Kids Connect: This looks like a good site for elementary-middle school. http://www.globalkidsconnect.org/
Connect All Schools: Supported by the US department of Education. I haven't had time to fully explore it yet. http://www.globalkidsconnect.org/
That is my advice on successful global collaboration. I would love to hear any advice or stories you have to share.