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One of the most enjoyable and inspiring books I have read this year has been Sir Ken Robinson's "Out of our Minds"  and my ref...

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Reflection on collaboration.

When I looked at the small group reflection task set in week 0 I knew it would not be a quick activity to sort out. I have been connecting and collaborating with international networks for some years now, and during past 4 years I have been building up an international virtual exchange network #clavier which has completely transformed my teaching practice and the experiences I can offer our students - but it took time...

  • time to find people with shared interests
  • time to find overlapping interests and shared purpose
  • time to build a relationship of trust and mutuality
  • time to locate preferred tech communication channels
  • all of the above in the virtual dark of computer mediated communication

I knew very few people in the #ocTEL course so first came the challenge of finding people with an interest in language education. I was delighted to find that a group already existed on the ocTEL site. I used the groups function of the wordpress site but my lack of familiarity with the interface meant that my first post was incorrectly placed in the the status update for the group. Schoolgirl error! Scanning my twitter feed (much more familiar with this channel) for #ocTEL participants was helpful though and soon I had found a few connections. I made a forum post suggestion and thanks to the encouragement from new connection @damon_tokyo who is based in Japan we decided to set up a shared document to edit asynchronously:
shared doc

Now we are under way but a further issue is apparent, a familiar one in my context. The google doc I set up was deliberately planned to be as open and available as possible in order to reduce any barriers to collaboration. There have been several edits and contributions but none of them signed in with google accounts so the revision history just shows anonymous contributions. It would be much easier to move this asynchronous document into a proxy for making further connections and more in depth reflection if, on arrive, contributors would sign in. I don't want to force this by changing the permissions though so we will see how it goes. In my context we have a similar situation when our students of French write collaborative stories with their virtual exchange partners in Clermont Ferrand. A really interesting and engaging activity that could be even more useful if we shared connections through google apps for education accounts. Preserving the student identity to be managed as they feel is appropriate and providing a real life opportunity to interact internationally and acquire the many transversal skills they will need in their future. A wasted opportunity. 

Groups who are experienced in international collaboration such as #globalclassroom, soliya  classroom 2.0 and many more are familiar with the barriers presented by time and schedule differences, different technology preferences, language and intercultural barriers etc., they achieve a great deal because their shared passion drives them on, they are resilient, flexible and most importantly willing to put in the time.

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