Transforming learning through global collaboration
Eva Brown and Barbara Morganfield were featured in a recent Future Learning Action Talk where they discussed plans to collaborate on flattening the curriculum for their pre-service/trainee teachers. Information about that meeting, including the recording is HERE. I suggest we broaden this discussion and share in this group, via this discussion form, what others are doing to redesign curriculum so that trainee teachers become qualified as global educators, or at least able to connect and collaborate beyond their immediate colleagues.
What are you doing? What do you need to support this?
I teach an undergraduate computer literacy course for education majors that, for a number of structural and historical reasons doesn't have a clear focus! :( It has an upper level course number but qualifies for our university's basic level competency in computer literacy! Almost of the students have early childhood or elementary education concentrations. But alas, the class is bifurcated in that about 60% of the students are juniors and seniors who for one reason or another are not eligible for student teaching and the remaining 40% of the class are sophomores and freshmen who have only had one or two other education courses. It's an interesting mix!
Most immediately, I am going to be using Julie and Vicki’s book with my class for the Spring semester but I am still in the early stages of organizing things… and I still have 10 days until classes begin! :) What I was hoping to do was to connect with a teacher education program someplace, ideally outside of the U.S.A., and have the students collaboratively explore teacher training programs, pre-K-12 teaching practices and career options for educators in both locales and then create some sort of presentation for the web. (In a way this is sort of a variant on the 'A Week in the Life..." project but geared for a topic of relevance to pre-service teachers.)
I see that Eva and Barbara are planning on a collaborative project where one group takes primary responsibility for the development of content-based lesson plans for secondary level students while the other group weaves in the technology and makes the lessons accessible. I think that is a neat project. However, part of my focus is to broaden the students’ horizons both career-wise and geographically since many of them will never qualify to be licensed teachers in Massachusetts and most of them have never been outside of New England. Thus, one could say that my case the primary goal in flattening the course is to engage the students’ minds and broaden their horizons.
So if any of you know of any faculty, ANYWHERE, who would like to collaborate on such a project or something similar, please let me know. Or if you have your own idea and are looking for someone to collaborate with, please get in touch with me. Thanks.
And while my immediate focus is on this semester's course, I am also interested in thinking/discussing/acting on issues related to flattening the curriculum in teacher training programs.
Allan, I am connecting with colleagues in Australia to try and broaden this collaboration for the forthcoming semester. I also encourage you to consider building into your course an 'Expert advisor' and/or 'Judges' component where you students help advise students co-creating wiki research, or judge their multimedia. The Eracism project also has other opportunities for extended community involvement, especially judges once again.
Thanks for the great suggestion! I'm actually part of a faculty learning community at Salem State and, until I read your comment, I never thought about the possibility of involving them in my project! But for a number of reasons, they would be a good source for expert advisors and it would reshape our group too. And maybe as I meet more people through FC, I'll ask someone if they would be willing to give feedback to my students.
I don't personally like the term 'judge' and I'm not particularly into creating competitive situations within my classes. Instead I try to build in peer review and self-reflection in conjunction with the option to revise work even after it has been graded. So adding review by outside experts would be an excellent addition. In your book you do talk about "meta-judges" who not only rank but provide concrete rationale for their rankings. It is that explanatory component that's crucial.
btw, when I talk about rubrics and grading with my students, I begin with this quotation from Costa and Kallick (1992, p. 280, If Minds Matter, V.2 ???):
“We must constantly remind ourselves that the ultimate purpose of evaluation is to have students become self-evaluating. If students graduate from our schools still dependent upon others to tell them when they are adequate, good, or excellent, then we’ve missed the whole point of what education is about.”
And having said all of this, down the road, I would be very willing to be an advisor or 'judge'. Again, thanks for your suggestion about expert advisors.
p.s. (about 10 hours later!)
Hi Julie (and other readers of this discussion thread)
I hope that my previous comments about judging and competition didn't come off as judgmental (!) or dismissive of the value of both of these concepts in life and the educational process in particular. Indeed, as you and Vicki emphasize, creating structures to ensure motivation and engagement are central to good teaching and subsequent learning. And maybe this is something to continue discussing in the book club when we get to Chapter #7.
One other semi-quick comment. As soon as I got up this morning I dashed off an email to the other 3 members of my FLC to broach the topic of their serving as expert advisors. After I sent off the email, I was thinking about their potential role as a change in faculty dynamics in that I would be allowing them to see first hand how I'm teaching my students and how they are doing. As much as we talk about peer collaboration, co-teaching, etc. it doesn't happen very much at my institution. I'm a big proponent of 'looking at student work' as a professional development technique but my efforts have never gained much traction among my colleagues - too busy, lack of subject matter expertise, fear of being evaluated, etc., etc. But I am now realizing that, if structured carefully so that there is a feedback loop back to the course professor (or preK-12 teacher), the expert advisors component could be a powerful way to weave professional development into the process. And of course the expert advisors don't have to be fellow faculty members. Perhaps this too could be part of the discussion in the book club at some point.
Allan, the discussion around 'awards' and 'judging' is ongoing, and there are strong proponents within our community/network for either side. Motivation and engagement are essential aims, however we also want to be able to showcase the 'best' work someway, and creating a system for example in the FCP where all videos are assessed via a common rubric and then a meta-judge has a final review seems to work ok right now. The struggle is to get the rubric 'right', and we are not there yet in my opinion....close, but the ever changing sands has prompted us to review this again for the coming semester's projects. What I want to see is not only a standalone video created by a student but in addition a 1-2 minute video of the student talking about their work, leading us through the process so we can understand more fully why this was done, why that was chosen etc. I think this type of student-led evaluation of their own work can strengthen not only our understanding of the student and the work, but also force the student to be more self-evaluating and accountable for their work/products.
Excellent ideas re changing faculty dynamics. Having come from 30 years almost in K-12 education I am only now moving again into a higher ed realm as I start my doctorate next month, but hoping to become involved more fully in the next few years. I believe the challenges are the same as you list between both levels of education - which boil down to teachers being comfortable putting themselves out there - in public or semi-public environment, and also being accountable for what they do, share and say.
Yes, let's raise all of this in the book club!
The attached pdf file is a description of my proposed collaborative project for undergraduate education majors. Many of the concrete details are not included since they will need to await a partner. For example, at this point there is no projected timeline although the project is conceived of as a single semester in length. Similarly, I currently envision both classes engaging in a parallel set of activities but it could be that teams are formed across classes or each class will take on a subset of activities. Finally, the assessment is only hinted at even though I have prepared a set of pre/post survey questions for students. Nonetheless, this proposal will hopefully give the reader a sense of where I'm headed - at this point in time at least. This version of the proposal was written to share with my fellow Faculty Learning Community (FLC) members and the overall FLC coordinator.
Any comments, suggestions or questions about potential collaboration would be very much appreciated! :)
Allan here are some brief comments after I have read this a couple of times. Thank you so much for sharing! Really appreciate your openness with this and willingness to put yourself out there to get peer review - and to attract partners!
I like the structure of the tasks you outline however, and this is something we see often in the K-12 realm with teachers who are just starting to venture into collaboration, the higher order level, or what we call 'global collaboration 3.0' is achieved when students actually collaborate in mixed classroom/country teams. You are asking each class to collaborate within their class as teams and prepare artifacts for the other class to comment on and all students will discuss comparisons etc? We actually call this the handshake phase - but you have extended this of course to include the full project. What would take this to a higher level is to create mixed class teams of 3-5 people who have a variety of topics that they jointly have to research and then co-create something together - eg a website, a video, a presentation. It is the co-creation element that I believe is the ultimate evidence of collaboration.
Also, yes you will need to consider and account for and build in both synchronous and asynchronous learning environments. You need to build a learning community for the purpose of the project/course. You are most welcome to use this NIng and create a new group and become a community within our community or your university may have other ideas of what you are able to do or allowed to do.
Allan, I wish I was working at higher-ed now to be able to partner with you, but will try to get this request out to the world and see who comes up.
Thanks for your feedback on my plan. Your comments make a lot of sense to me. And I have, or am acquiring, a better sense of the need to build/enter some community/ies before I drag my students very far into this!
But having said that, I must apologize for not responding sooner. I did write an immediate response but when I looked at it before I hit the ‘Add Reply’ I decided that my reply sounded too defensive! But that pause has resulted in a 2 week silence on my part. :(
So I’m still not exactly sure what is going to happen in my course this semester but I have explained the situation to my class and my tentative syllabus weaves in some components from Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds even if students don’t actually get to the initial point of global handshaking. Perhaps most importantly, I am going to have them, and me(!), begin with the development and subsequent in-class sharing of a PLN! We’ll all go from there.
p.s. Your comments, to my even earlier post, about the dynamics and value of judging projects will be an interesting topic for one of the book club sessions!
Good to hear from you, I thought I might have offended you with my last comment. Don't forget we are also looking for expert advisors for 2 projects this coming semester: Flat Classroom Project and NetGenEd. Are your students already in schools? or pre-classroom work? If in schools we are also looking for sounding board classrooms.
I know this may not fit with your plans, but the way I see it is, putting yourself out there as an 'advisor' or a judge with K-12 projects allows you to interact with others, see student work up close and interact with students and also get an idea of what the project is all about. We do in fact build a community around our judges and advisors on the Ning. It is very important to feel welcome and wanted, and having a place to find information, ask questions, comment and share resources is a large part of this, as you know.