The Power of Collaboration

There is so much to write on this topic, that I could write a very long and informative book!  Since no one has the free time to read all of my examples and thoughts, I will have to drop them here every now and then to remind you The Power of Collaboration!

As I sat and pondered what technology I would teach for WWWednesday this month, I started thinking about the online version that I offer as an option.  I want my teachers to use more blended learning.  I have trained some of them in Moodle and offer a wiki with resources when they want to visit it.  However, it is hard for them to find the time or desire to find new websites and/or web 2.0 tools to use in their classroom.  I would venture to say that the majority of teachers don’t even know what Web 2.0 is. 

I decided to offer this month’s online version covering Web 2.0 and Online Tools.  The teachers have to complete their “assignments” in Moodle which gives them greater understanding of the uses of the program.  Rather than just ask them questions and use the same training format each month, I decided to use different tools.  Their two assignments require them to collaborate on websites that they use in the classroom by entering information in a wiki and completing a journal entry. 

When I went in this morning to check progress, I expected to see a lot of websites I already knew.  I also expected to find a long listing of websites that I provided to the teachers in the lesson or previously.  Much to my amazement, I found websites I did not know existed!  I also noticed a couple of people editing each other’s descriptions or posts and adding information.  I was amazed at the amount of collaboration occurring when the teacher’s simply thought they were trying to get a check in the box.

While I realize that this is not the highest level of collaboration possible, I am hoping teachers can begin to realize the value of working together to pool resources, lessons, and more.  After the online session ends, I plan on posting the websites by topic as a resources for all teachers on the campus to use.  My hope is that we can add to that in the future!

I challenge everyone to now take this small and primitive example and imagine the collaboration that could occur in the classroom.  Can you imagine if you put students in groups and had them create a timeline of significant events in World War II?  Would one student or a group come up with a stronger project.  What if they then had to collaboratively write a paper on how the significant events  led to the end of World War II and later events?  Do you think they would then have a better understanding of World War II than if they just took notes while a teacher lectured?

Collaboration can create powerful learning experiences.  It forces us to talk and think.  It requires participants to be active learners and take part in the project.  By sharing collaborations, we can then all become smarter as a whole!

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