I’ve taken a shot at global collaborations a few times and I guess I would call those attempts mildly successful. I’m still searching for the one that will stick and feel like a complete success. I really love the idea of students working on projects that defy the traditional brick and mortar confines of schools.
My first project started almost 7 years ago and in some forms still continues.
You can read the full story from the link if you like, but the short version is my school in North Carolina connected with a school in Tema to provide them with a computer lab and hopefully create an exchange between students. It was a long process. The first exchange was on paper and two years later there was a digital exchange. Then the project stalled. We’ll leave it at that for now.
This year I was contacted by a former colleague to do another letter exchange with her students who were English language learners in the mountains of North Carolina. My advisory students somewhat willingly agreed to participate and we shared a few exchanges, but over the winter break, that too fell apart.
As I read through Kim Cofino’s Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaborations I’ve realized that one of my flaws has been I’ve approached it more as a “this will be cool” kind of thing than “here’s what I want to accomplish”. The Tema project developed with purpose after the initial phase, but it was a shaky start.
I would also venture to say that it is a little more difficult to convince middle school students in an international school that a global collaboration, mystery skype, etc. is a cool and advantageous exercise. They’ve lived all over and keep in touch with their friends in other countries via social media already. Oh, and they’re middle schoolers. There has to be more than just bells and whistles, they need to be interested.
I’ve had some success helping others at our school connect with projects. Our KG classes have connected with a school in Canada, first grade with a school in Finland and a few other connections that I’ve been able to help create thanks to Twitter, but I haven’t found the one for me yet.
I’m hoping that the unit that is the basis for my final project will eventually lead to a global collaboration. This is our first year trying out the project and we want to keep it simple to start with, but in the future I see it as an opportunity to share the finished product, connect with other schools, and develop a broader collection of stories.
I feel like I’ve got the connected educator part down. I’ve built the PLN, shared resources, gained resources and all of that. Now I’ve got find the extension cord to my classroom.