There are two important aspects of global collaborative learning leading to action within schools. The first of these is “why collaborate globally?” Research shows that global collaboration learning is inquiry-based and shared with others beyond the classroom (such as family and friends). It also supports digital literacy, as well as many other kinds of literacy. As students learn beyond the textbook, they develop multi modal communication skills and real world experience by working in virtual teams. Through global collaboration, students adopt an active participatory approach where they are fully engaged with their activities. This fosters increased engagement, diminishes classroom disruption, and empowers learners.
Positive outcomes from learning online with others at a distance include:
- Enhanced cultural understanding and willingness to collaborate with others on building knowledge
- Decreased ethnocentricity, and increased tolerance and empathy for others
- Enhanced global competencies, new global skills, broader perspectives
- Technology that can be used for more than ‘social casual interactions’ and can lead to productivity
- Personal actions that have an impact and can make a difference
The second aspect is “How can we enable online global collaboration?” This is a vital question that schools and individual educators continue to grapple with. There are three key areas to consider:
- Personal enablers – These include: Development of a strong Personal Learning Network (PLN) to be able to connect with others beyond the immediate school and build trusting relationships with others; understanding of a set of tools that support online global collaboration (such as Edmodo) and realising that school-based systems usually do not allow direct collaborative interaction outside the campus; and professional learning in global learning design and project development.
- Situational enablers – These refer to factors more outside of teacher control such as a flexible and collaborative approach to curriculum development within the school; supportive administration and school community; and school technology infrastructure that allows for access to online tools for communication and collaboration.
- Global project structure and organisation – A successful collaborative global project relies on effective communication between teachers, clear organisation and workflow agreement; empathy building activities between students develops trust and provides a pathway for ongoing collaboration; and carefully chosen digital tools support the expected learning outcomes.
When starting to plan for online global collaboration in your learning environment, make sure communication is open between you and your school community, and between you and potential global partners. Teacher “mindset”—although perhaps a nebulous concept—is another vital enabler.
Be willing to take risks, be prepared to “fail forward”—knowing that the second and third global collaboration will continue to build skills and competencies for positive outcomes. Above all, avoid the “fear factor” and make sure you jump into online collaboration.
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Viswanathan Anand is the Brand Ambassador of Edify !!!