Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Collaborative Communities

A classroom of people working on a course without forming a collaborative community is a perfect picture of an industrial age classroom.
We are beyond that. We are in the digital age. We can facilitate collaborative communities in our classrooms. To not do so is to miss out on metacognitive opportunities, deeper learnings, & students teaching students.
One such community did not exist in the recent online course for which I paid. This community feeling exists, upholds us, and propels us forward in a free course I am taking. It is ironic that the free course collaborates this way and the for pay course did not. I have to take for pay courses for certification, but I really enjoy belonging to a collaborative community. Others in the course say the same thing.
If teachers enjoy collaboration that much, think how much students would enjoy and benefit from such collaborations. It is up to us to establish and facilitate these types of communities in our classrooms. I plan to collaborate with other classrooms worldwide in my classes starting this fall. What are your plans?
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ms. whatsit said...

I'm in the process of setting up a class blog for my honors class as an experiment. This might not sound like much, but the English teachers in my school have yet see the potential collaborative writing value of this kind of technology.

Fortunately, the library information specialist in my building supports me. I've asked he to obtain the right permissions in order for me to get going on this project. The approach I am going to take is to use a writer's notebook in the classroom (breathing in) and hopefully get kids to put together posts (breathing out) using some of the ideas they generate there.

I find such personal satisfaction interacting with other teachers through blogging, that I imagine that it could be a very fun, purposeful, satisfying experience for students. We'll see. Wish me luck.

I keep wanting to write a post about my ideas, but have been reluctant to do so. Perhaps I'll turn this comment into my long-overdue post on the topic.

Jennifer K. Lubke said...

During my 11 years as a classroom teacher I worked hard -- so hard -- to facilitate collaborative learning communities.

Some called it "cooperative learning" or "group work"; the detractors call it "shared ignorance." I encountered a lot of them but tried to not be deterred by their lack of faith in what "these kids" can do. ("These kids" being another divisive phrase the naysayers trot out from time to time.)

My everyday struggle in trying to guide meaningful, student-centered group work back then was how to ensure reflection and accountability: is everyone contributing? will there be time left at the end of class to discuss the "process", not just what is learned but how it is learned?

That is what I find so exciting about the digital tools for collaborative teaching and learning, such as Ms. Whatsit's electronic "notebook."

As you have noted before, Durff, it's increasingly difficult to "hide." I imagine student participation becomes more transparent and easier to monitor with the speed and utility that the digital tools afford.