Originally, my focuses in the use of technology in the classroom over the last six years had/has to do with the collaborative nature of online tools and easy of functionality between the teacher and student using these tools. As far as collaborative tools go for education, Google Docs has proven to be one of the best so far for me. My students and I have made it an indispensable part of the AP World and European History classes. Several of my students are now using it in their other upper level and Dual Enrollment classes. It should be noted that some of my friends also use Google docs collaboratively or allow students to use it in their classes. This has also gone beyond the high school classroom to college as some of the students that we have taught are using it exclusively for collaboration in their classes.
I have had the opportunity along with my good friend Tara Malecki (she should be writing this post) to present at our county’s technology workshops to share our own experiences with Google Docs in 2011 and 2012. In the fall of 2013, I was given the opportunity to present this idea of Collaboration and Technology at the State Social Studies Conference (FCSS). Sharing with my fellow social studies teachers was exciting and eye opening because many of them were working toward the same goals involving technology and collaboration. It was a great session and confirmed for me that this is the direction I needed to pursue.
These events encouraged me to do more research on the topic of collaborative tools. What I have now learned is that students must also be engaged (Engagement) with the tools. I now realized that I was addressing only part of what I wanted to accomplish with Collaborative learning for my students.
Carnegie Mellon’s, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation addresses Collaborative tools and learning . Here is the synopsis from their site Collborative Tools based on a White paper literature review (2009) of collaborative learning, assessment, and tools. Download Collaboration Tools White Paper
Collaborative learning is essentially people working together to solve a problem, create a product, or derive meaning from a body of material. A central question or problem serves to organize and drive activities, and encourage application, analysis, and synthesis of course material. While the landscape of technology that can be used to support central activities of collaborative learning is vast and varied, it is often lumped together under a single label: “collaboration tools.”
Tools that exist to support collaboration can:
- facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice, and video communication.
- assist in basic project management activities.
- support co-creation by enabling groups to modify output in real-time or asynchronously.
- facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling.
- simplify and streamline resource management.
- enable local and remote presentation and archiving of completed projects.
- Virtual Meetings
- Instant Messaging
- Screen Sharing
- Voice, Video, Web Conferencing
- Discussion Boards
Team Definition & Participant
- Social Networking
- Presence Management
- User Profiles
- Contact Management
- Task Management
- Time Tracking
- Workflow Routing
- File Storage
- Database Management
- Version Tracking
- Access Management
- Social Bookmarking
Co-Creation & Ideation
- Concept Mapping
- Virtual Whiteboards
- Real-Time Collaborative Editing
- Question Management
- Process Archiving
Presentation & Archiving
- Slide Shows
- Hosted Media Sharing
If you are interested in these ideas and bringing Collabrative tools into your classroom I strongly recomment Carnegie Mellon’s, White paper literature review (2009) of collaborative learning, assessment, and tools. Download Collaboration Tools White Paper