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!

Wikified!

This week I have totally been in my element at work and doing the things that I love!  I have helped two teachers get acquainted with Moodle and get them prepared to start using it with students.  I have worked with my staff on teacher websites, presented to a great group of CTE teachers, and helped a few special teachers.  On top of all of this great interaction, I have started really working on my wiki!

This past summer I stumbled upon PBWorks Summer Camp.  It was a great experience and one I was so fortunate to find.  I spent four weeks learning how to use a wiki and becoming a Certified PBWorks Educator.  Beyond that, I got to see so many great things teachers were doing with wikis in their classroom.  I always say I would be a much different teacher if I went back into the classroom now, and I can promise wikis is one thing I would use!  I always try to model the technologies I like for other teachers to see.  This past week I FINALLY got around to “playing” with my wiki, and I took off!  It has been so much fun, and I literally look forward to finding time to work more:)  Before I go further, the link to my wiki is:

http://kristastechtidbits.pbworks.com/

Through the creation of this wiki, I have learned more than I ever thought possible!  I have been trying to find additional resources to make it a great place for teachers to visit.  I started with the podcasting section so I can start working with my podcasting academy teachers.  I was excited to see all of the information out there!  The information I needed already existed so I literally just stared pulling together resources. 

At this point, I had to stop and reflect.  If I am learning so much from creating a wiki, how much would students learn from creating or collaborating on wikis?  Students today love to collaborate and create!  Wikis in the classroom would give them the opportunity to work together on their terms, find the information they need, and create an outstanding project.  Imagine going beyond your classroom.  You could connect with a teacher from a different class, school, or country and collaborate with their students.  The opportunities are endless! 

An example of the power of wikis can be found at http://www.flatclassroomproject.org/!

My challenge today is for each of you to get wikified!!!  Find wikis with information you are interested in and learn or contribute.  Consider adding them to your classroom.  Ask you local technology person to help you get started!  Wikis can truly change your classroom!

If you have a classroom wiki project, please comment so others can see examples!