Sunday, June 5, 2011

Flat Classroom - Mod 8 Meeting Make-Up - The keys to effective online global collaboration

I was not able to attend this meeting as it started at 7:30 in the morning and this time just does not work out for me due to school schedules and kids.

I am a obviously a few weeks behind in writing up my make-up work as school is now out and there has since been another meeting.

I am slowly finding my motivation to get things done after enjoying my family in these beginning days of summer break and doing next to nothing but playing, playing, and playing.

Here are the questions that were discussed during the meeting.

  • What are the criteria for successfully managing a global collaborative project?
  • What are some issues that global project managers are challenged by? How can these be solved to the satisfaction of all participants?
  • Why are some projects more 'successful' than others? How can we support participants needs from different countries, systems and expectations?
  • What affect does global collaboration have on the rest of the school, if any?
  • What are the characteristics of an engaged teacher and classroom in a global collaborative project?
I am taking a different approach to this compared to actually being in the meeting. I took a few notes of thoughts in my mind while listening to this hour plus meeting. Instead of answering each question as a whole I will just collectively ramble about my thoughts.

One thing that everyone is facing is stress and the meeting of deadlines. It seems that each of us are feeling those pressures whether in the classroom, from administrators, events in our personal lives, etc. I think it is important that we have one another to realize we are alone in our thoughts of craziness and trying to sort through the hectic lives we live. I also cannot but think of our students and remember that to some degree this is how they feel when being pulled by several teachers, parents, coaches, friends, etc. Hearing everyone talk about stress reminded me that I need to be more flexible in my teaching because I often ask for others to be flexible with me.

When working with other teachers and students no matter if the playing field is global, stateside, or even across the hall, there are many things we must consider in order for a project to be successful. Many times the the issues that challenge us are the same ones that create success and affect the rest of the school day. They often are bundled all in one great big package.

One of the these issues is communication. It is important to establish good communication methods for both the teachers and the students. You have to be willing to work together to form a relationship that benefits both parties. The use of email is the easiest, but being open to tools like Skype and other social media outlets are also important. Find what works and go with it. This might differ with each class you work with. 

Another issue is seeing the project through. It is always easy to be very excited early on. The kids are excited and the teachers are excited. However, as the project moves forward the same excitement needs to continue. I have been in projects where we got off to a great start and then everything just fizzles out and frustration sets in because all the time and energy has been lost. We also don't want to let our partners down.

Feeding off of the previous idea is to make sure we keep things simple enough for everyone. You don't need 10 different tools. The simpler the choices and ideas, the better off you are going to be. I think that if things are kept simple, then it leaves room for the really good classrooms to add other features along the way. Keeping things simple allows everyone a chance to be successful.

Last, the issue that is the major stress of all education.....time. Finding time in the day to work on the projects. Some of these projects must take up some precious class time for certain blocks of time. We have to be willing to devote and time and resources. This means we have to really believe in what we are doing and that the project is beneficial. 

These ideas discussed are all ones that I feel are very important, but are very hard to accomplish. They go hand in hand. I have failed on some of these items as well as being successful. The key is to be open and honest when things go wrong or are neglected and celebrate when they go well.
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