Transforming learning through global collaboration
Most of us have collaborated on a project. It can definitely be fun to sit around a big table brainstorming, being struck by flashes of insight, reliving related projects, tweaking and adjusting a group idea into something new. But when it comes to collaboratively creating a piece of writing, a work of art, or some other tangible artifact, the whole game suddenly changes.
Above all else, in school, we learned -- to put our names on our own papers. Getting credit was and usually is the bottom line. Only using your own ideas amounts to honesty. Competing to get a gold star, or an A, or a promotion is what it was or is all about. In the US, we thrive on the individual. We are proud of being unique, of making it on our own. And when a person has a work of art (writing, visual, etc.) go on display, they know the world will be assessing them personally, based on how that work turns out.
So this turn in education toward collaborative work can be a challenge. Perhaps students are more apt to be receptive to collaboration than parents and other adults. As teachers, we talk a good talk, supporting the benefits of collaborative work, but as a participant, it is a lot more difficult to actually "do!" What great challenges are provided by the Flat Classroom Certification course to help us really understand what we are asking our students to do.
Collaborative writing is a great stretch, an exercise for releasing control, coordinating schedules, appreciating the different points of view and work flow styles. Although it initially seems incredibly difficult, stick with it -- both for yourself and with your students. In the film, Shakespeare in Love, the Elizabethan characters are continually assured it "will all work out." When someone asks how, the answer is , "I don't know. It is a mystery." True collaboration has many turns when you don't know how it could possibly come together, but rest assured, it will. Stick with the process and the mystery will unfold.