I’ve learned that collaboration is a key component in a 21st century school. Collaboration within a school between all stakeholders is essential, however these partnerships are only the tip of the iceberg. Real learning and motivational power can be created by globally collaborating with learners seeking the same content.
Collaboration locally or across countries creates a ‘positive interdependence‘ that I first learned about at a training for Kagan Cooperative Learning. As I am assisting 4 classrooms with the participation in a global collaboration project, called If You Learned Here, I am realizing that this is the perfect positive interdependence situation. Positive interdependence only works well when it’s alongside personal accountability. It is important that individuals take part in the learning first with the understanding that what they learn and create is needed by his or her learning network. Our students are very motivated to provide examples from their school lives so that others may learn about where they live and work.
Feeling motivated by the outcome of the If You Learned Here project, I had the idea to revamp the 4th grade (very dull!) Gulf Cooperation Council social studies unit into a regionally cooperative project. I contacted a fellow CoETaILer teaching at ISG Jubail, Alexis Snider, to see if her 4th grade team would like to learn with us. Following many of the successful components used in the If You Learned Here project, the Together in the GCC project was started.
Right on time, Kim’s Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaborations was posted to provide detailed reminders that I might have overlooked due to the excited frenzy of a good idea. I am having a great time planning this unit (no, really!), but because it is a bit late in the year, so many schools and teachers are already committed to their schools current mapped out units. Our plan B, is to go ahead with the project, with or without classrooms from all Gulf countries, and have students from participating classes take on the roles and provide research for the missing countries. On the bright side, it will be invaluable to have a trial run before including hundreds of students when we start recruiting at the beginning of next year.
Speaking of collaboration, another KEY to the success of a global (or regional) project, is access to other educators via Twitter. Using hashtags to notify likeminded people, like #edtech or #coetail helps to reach out to a large audience in order to find participants.
My face says it all here. My eyes (or the door, if you want to go with the original key metaphor) have been opened to the educational possibilities that collaboration tools like Twitter, Google, Flipgrid, Padlet, and MANY more are providing us. A very cool realization.