Our February and March ISTE focus is on Global Collaborator! This standard calls students to collaborate both locally (within their own classroom context), as well as beyond. Using technology to access and share information, students will learn from diverse perspectives and work on complex problems with peers.
In response to this ISTE standard, Common Sense Education has a new blog post dedicated to this topic called How Technology Can Encourage Student Collaboration. In this post, the author argues that technology can be leveraged to promote teamwork and collaboration in authentic ways. Some ideas highlighted in the blog post are:
- Encouraging global collaboration is really about shifting mindsets, not simply providing more technology
- Collaboration is linked to cognitive science, which can help students monitor their own learning
- The “flipped classroom” trend can open up more classroom time for collaborative projects
- Teachers have used online writing communities to provide spaces for collaboration and authorship
- ePals offers a secure email platform and video chats to collaborate with peers across the world, as well as partners such as the Smithsonian Institute
Common Sense Education has responded to this call to collaborate by evaluating and recommending tools to assist teachers in fostering authentic collaboration within and beyond their classrooms. One highlighted here (that is free) is NowComment, a discussion forum. There are settings that teachers can use, such as sorting by participant and tag, as well as the ability to turn on and off when students can see each other’s ideas. These discussion forums can be text-based, with teachers easily able to upload documents. Think Actively Learn, but with a collaborative aspect!
Other highly-rated tools include:
- Drawp (iPad app) provides students with a blank canvas to produce art or other graphics that is easily shared with families
- Makers Empire is a design thinking tool where students can create 3D graphics and models that can be connected to a 3D printer
- MURAL is a website described as an interactive, visual corkboard that allows students to create collaborative murals for a project