Going with the flow – online collaborating

many lessons learned …

I thought I would share a recent experience of global collaboration.    Through the wonders of Twitter I connected with a teacher in Chicago – we first started corresponding a few months ago – you know the sort of thing  “We must get the kids to collaborate one day”  .  Well over the past few weeks we have found a purpose as it appeared that both groups of children we work with were studying Endangered animals.   My Chicago colleague got the ball rolling and created a Voicethread with the sketches and poems created by her students.  This is how it progressed

  1. Voicethread by Chicago
  2. Blog Posts by Australian students
  3. Blog posts read and commented by Chicago
  4. Blog post material added to Voicethread
  5. Australian students respond to Chicago students with facts about Koala
  6. Chicago school creates Introductory video for Australian school
  7. Australian school responds with video about Melbourne
  8. Voicethread continues to evolve with comments both ways

If you looked at the planning documents for both schools, I know that neither set of teachers would have anticipated this when planning their units on Endangered animals.   The events flowed from each – evolved out of the collaboration and on the spot ideas.  If the teachers were not open to spontaneously changing their planned pathways, the benefit from the opportunity would have been lost.

So what did the students get out of this ?  Well, I know the Australian kids had to consider what had been presented and design a suitable reply – adding to the prior knowledge with their own facts.   They had an immediate audience for their writing – they were not just writing a poster for the classroom wall – they were genuinely informing another person (or group), in this case a 8 year old child in Chicago (and her class).  They were exposed to other children’s ideas and presentations – they were an audience as well as creators.  The students were teaching each other. If nothing else, the students were exposed to a global collaboration, they saw how simple tools can connect people.   Perhaps next time they have information to share they might say “How about we find another class to work with?” or “Could we learn from other students?”.

Screen shot 2011-05-21 at 3.41.30 PMAnother thing that struck me is that this learning is definitely not all for the students – the teachers participated in a sharp learning curve – creating the Voicethread, sharing it, creating iMovies to share and emailing and Twittering all along to share the developing issues.  There were glitches and the time difference and fast approaching summer vacation in the USA meant we fast forwarded some processes – but these are the approaches you have to take when collaborating on a global scale.

So when I woke up this morning and saw these Tweets from my new ‘American friend’ – I was heartwarmed, gratified and overall happy.

Screen shot 2011-05-21 at 3.37.20 PM

Week 8 – Presentation tools 1 (15/6 – 21/6)

I love this week’s activities – these are cool tools.

Wordle and Tagxedo are similar tools.  Tagxedo allows you to create a picture with your words as well as edit colour and text themes.  Having used Wordle with young students, I found it best to get them to create and edit their word lists in a word processing package first.  This allows for spell checking etc.  If you want a word to appear large, repeat it numerous times in your list.

I like the ability in both programs to insert text from other websites.  In particular it is fun to import your tags from Delicious and create a pictorial presentation.

ToonDoo is a great comic strip maker.  I have used this with children as young as Prep (age 5) through to Year 6’s (age 12).  They all loved it and found it simple to manipulate.  The variety of styles of pictures available  allows for lots of indivualisation.  I have asked children to use them to reflect on an activity/experience, for example – challenges overcome at camp. Having to have Primary students log in to these types of sites can be problematic – a site that does not require log in is MakeBeliefComix. More comic strip creator stes are described on Edubeacon

A great example of using Comic strips for  different purpose (as I have mentioned before) is the work of Edna on WhatedSaid.

Voicethread has so much potential and I will admit that I have tried to use it, but had a few technical hitches.  A fellow colleague has created some great resources to assist teachers to set up Voice threads. In particular, it details the creation of an educator account. (Thanks Tom)

Voicethread Educator Account for Teachers in Classrooms from Tom Wursthorn on Vimeo.

I intend to use it more in the near future and love the idea that children can insert sound and video recordings.

Wikis are interesting too and I have my wiki page linked from this blog. I basically use it to store and sort links and ideas. We have used Wikis with children as reflective class journals, but have not yet found a ‘fantastic’ purpose.

Glogster – well, it took me a while, but here is my first try

I can see the potential here and I will need to find out about the Educator accounts as Glogster’s terms of Service do not permit under 13’s. Apparently Educator accounts make this possible. Some good resources and ideas here at Edunology.