Sunday, April 2, 2017

Collaboration and Technology - A Perfect Pair

Collaboration is a commonly used word in education that we throw out on a regular basis, but what does it really mean?  We hear the word "collaborate" when we have students work together in a Google Doc, but it means much more than that.

In the Partnership for 21st Skills Framework, collaboration falls under the area of Learning and Innovation Skills.  Collaboration is defined as being able to:
  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member
In addition, in the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines, teachers are encouraged to provide options to students to help foster collaboration and community which will in turn build engagement. In "UDL Now", Katie Novak defines collaboration as a necessary career and life skill.

When planning collaborative lessons, it's important to begin with your "Purpose".  What is the goal of collaboration and how does it fit in with your objectives?  After you have defined your purpose, you should then consider the following:

Scope - What will be the depth or length of ongoing collaboration? (One lesson, a unit or yearlong project)
Type - How will collaborators interact with each other? (In pairs, groups, online)
Collaborators - Who will participate in the collaboration? (Peers in or out of the classroom,experts, etc.)
Digital Tools - What online and other digital tools will support the collaboration purpose?

I've created a collection of collaborative digital tools that include tools for Writing, Communication, Visual and Audio Creation, Data Collection, Project Management & Teacher Productivity and Research and Searching.  I am currently updating this collection, but you can see the tools that I've added on my "Collaboration Tools on Symbaloo".  They are organized into the above categories and additional sub-categories. (These tools have also been tagged on our Diigo site. Look for the tag, "Collaborative")

I encourage you to look at collaboration at a deeper level and find ways to encourage this life skill in your classroom to engage and challenge your students.