As an educator I continually have my students collaborate with others, be it within the class, with the other class of the same grade level, with other grades, or outside of the school. With advancements in technology educators and students now have the opportunity to work together with students in other parts of the world much more easily than in past, creating increased interest in the concept of global collaboration. This advancement has also made it easier for students and teachers to get in contact with experts in a variety of different fields.
Global collaboration resembles other forms of more localized collaboration except it involves students and teachers interacting with others across the globe, working and learning together. There are three major advantages to this type learning. Students gain:
- Exposure to people/cultures that are not their own.
- Experience working with people who may think differently than they do.
- Technological knowledge, as it is necessary in order to work with this style of teaching.
- Access to a global pool of knowledge that is able to enhance the learning experience.
As I reflect on my own teaching, I can see points where collaborating with a class around the world would help my students gain a better understanding of the concepts covered in class. For example, in one unit my students analyzed various commercial advertisements. I think it would be neat to work with another class to explore the similarities and differences in advertising between cultures. At the end of the unit the students would work together to help create a multimedia ad campaign for a fictional product that would be popular in both countries.
In early March I met with parents to discuss trends in education and technology. One of the trends I mentioned was global collaboration. While speaking I noticed that most of the parents in the rooms were nodding their heads in agreement. However, I have yet to take the leap to actually collaborate globally with a class from another part of the world. Mainly because I am concerned about how to organize it and also how do I reach out to another class.
After reading Kim Cofino’s post on global collaboration, I now feel that I have a better understanding of how I could actually go about organizing it. The post is detailed and gives lots of ideas of questions to ask to help the reader take their first leap. For making my first foray into global collaboration, I will probably use Flat Classrooms. This resource provides teachers and students with various projects that they can participate in by signing up. These two resources provide enough suggestions and support that I now feel comfortable taking the next step with my class.
While global collaboration using technology is something that I wish to explore, I can’t help but wonder what is my responsibility? Do I only seek out schools/teachers that already have the same access to technology that I do and thus do nothing to help decrease the digital divide between different parts of the world? Or do I encourage my school to help another school gain access to improved technology through fund raising and possible grants? Thus helping to mend the digital divide. Also by limiting the connection to schools that have access to the required technology am I limiting the experiences of cultural diversity that my students could gain from using traditional communication methods?
RockOurWorld.mov found on YouTube uploaded by rockourworld1
Global Player by alles-schlumpf found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
UN Builds Classrooms in North Darfur for Displaced by United Nations Photo