Using Julie Lindsay’s diagram above as a structure, this blog post is a reflection on my first Global Digital Collaboration.
I designed this collaboration using the ideas from Flat Connections and set up a Skype in the Classroom lesson and a Wikispaces Site. The collaboration was between two Year 8 English classes at Wilderness School in Adelaide and Ms Jan Newbold’s Year 8 art class at Kristin School in NZ.
The immediate learning intention was for my students to discover the meaning behind Maori Symbols used in the film Whale Rider but I also wanted to start incorporating into my English curriculum the 21st Century Fluencies of Collaboration and Global Digital Citizenship. Jan’s class used this opportunity to research Maori symbols and to share their findings on the wiki and in the planned Skype. Due to the two and a half hour time difference and the two different school timetables this activity would mean that asynchronous learning methods would be a vital scaffold for our classes to collaborate and to prepare for the Skype.
Technology Access: Tools for Collaboration
- WikiSpaces: allowed both teachers and classes to contribute information on content pages and to engage in discussions.
- Google docs: were very engaging and allowed synchronous and asynchronous writing. (See blog on Handshake activity).
- Skype: was difficult to organise a time but as a celebratory end to the unit it was a lot of fun for the students to finally meet each other face to face.
Both teachers and students had experience of using Google docs but Wikispaces was new for all the students and one teacher. Despite this, we have all had experiences with adding information to content pages and discussions in our own learning management systems. Skyping was also a new activity that meant we had to organise technology and best places for students to be seen and heard.
By participating in the shared Google docs students had to think about how they represented themselves and how to communicate respectfully. Students used an avatar and their first name with the initial of their surname.
Interpersonal skills were developed. For example, students had to interpret comments on the wiki and the google docs. This led to teaching online etiquette and respect.
The Google handshake and the Skype both created an awareness that people are different but still have many similarities. For more examples please read the handshake activity.
We found out about multiple cultures in NZ by meeting a Maori boy in the class and he spoke about his family.
Providing Learning Opportunities
Using online tools made learning visible because the content was available whenever students or teachers needed to have access.
Our online collaboration developed many aspects of digital citizenship-
- What images students can use and what is appropriate information to share.
- They developed cultural understanding and awareness.
- As teachers Jan and I developed a learning network and engaged with other educators.
- Students and teachers together developed digital fluency by problem solving and troubleshooting technical issues. Throughout the collaboration we supported each other to make our Wikispace and Skype happen.
- Students experienced being virtual paticipants in Skype.
- By doing this digital global collaboration we needed to talk about ‘personal branding’: making sure that what we put online reflects who we are.
- Google doc.
Student Feedback using Google forms
Something that could be improved is that we find a website that will send us an email or message when someone replies.
I knew a bit about maori symbols before hand because I have been to New Zealand before (tattoos and stuff) but of the things in the movie and what the students from the New Zealand school explained were new to me.
I think that what I didn’t know before was that every symbol had a long and very cultural story behind it.
I have learnt all about the Maori culture which I knew nothing about before. I have learnt about how the whales are sacred to the people and how they are very important in their culture, beliefs and leaders.
Personally, I think that we could have done the Skype in a smaller group so that we could get more ‘one on one’ time. However, I really did enjoy this task, thank you!
Global digital collaboration goes beyond research. We found out more through the learning experience of meeting and sharing knowledge.
References & Links
Julie Lindsay has shared this video on ‘personal branding’. For more videos go to the Flat Classrooms YouTube channel.
Julie Lindsay’s presentation Digital citizenship- a global Perspective
Links to the Australian Curriculum: Global Education
International Society for Technology in Education ISTE Standards