This spring I had the opportunity to participate in one of the Flat Classroom global projects designed and facilitated by Flat Classroom co-founders, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. The project that my students and I participated in was the NetGenEd Project. The idea behind the project was for students to work collaboratively researching and contributing to the NetGenEd Wiki about one of the 2013 Horizon Report Tech Trends through the critical perspective of Don Tapscott’s Net Generation Norms. In addition, students created a video about the tech trend they researched to be judged by a set of external judges. The project encompassed about ten weeks from February up until the end of April. My students worked on the project everyday in class researching, adding information to the Wiki and Ning, communicating with their global partners from other schools, and creating their videos. This being the first year that my students and I participated in the project, I asked my students to reflect on their learning and participation in this project.
My students gave me some insight in how I might do the project differently if I were to participate in this project again and confirmed for me some of my own thoughts post-project.
As a new teacher to this project there were meetings online every week or two to help set up the project but as one of the organizers said, “it is sink or swim.” I kept abreast of everything but a mentor assigned to work with me would have been beneficial. I read Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time (2012) by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis beforehand. I read Grown Up Digital (2009) by Don Tapscott after being informed I was invited to participate in the project. I read as much as I could so that I could manage the project effectively and successfully.
One thing I would recommend changing is streamline the websites. It was overwhelming and confusing between the Ning and the Wiki. As a Wiki user and advocate, I was comfortable and confident collaborating on a Wiki. The Ning — think of a social networking sight like Facebook specifically for the project participants — I felt, was not necessary; and many of my students confirmed the same in their reflection. Asking students to contribute to a Wiki and contribute to the Ning was tedious and confusing. There was a handshake on the Ning, but project reports on the Wiki, discussions on the Wiki and on the Ning. Why not have a page on the wiki to share handshake blog posts and keep everything on one website.
Returning teachers shared their project checklists online and this was tremendously helpful. I used these as models to create daily checklists to help my students move through each element of the project requirements. I wish I had gotten this information right at the beginning of the project. In addition, I felt I needed to evaluate my students at every checklist to make sure that each piece of the desired outcomes was met. I created my own rubrics, and would have loved other teacher participants to share their own.
I realize now, after reading student reflections, I need to better articulate the guidelines and desired outcomes for my students. I thought that I was clear but found many of my students confused. I need to create templates to support student research and offer models of solid final products to help my students understand the project requirements.
Here are some highlights of what my students said in their reflections:
“I found it interesting to work with students in other countries and see their point of view.”
“I learned that the future of technology has so much to offer.”
“If you were to do the project again, there should be less work. It was too much and were graded too harshly seeing as we were learning as we were completing the project requirements.”
“I learned how to collaborate with other people through technology.”
“I think you don’t need to do the Wiki, students should just make a movie and the other people collaborating were useless.”
Now, you might be wondering, would I do another global collaborative project?
Absolutely, in fact I am working on another one right now connecting my students with students at a school in Japan.
To see my students’ Flat Classroom research, Wiki reports, and videos CLICK HERE.