Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Influential Global Collaboration Projects

The final task in my Using Digital and Social Media in Education class is a global collaboration project that I will create myself. In order to build a successful and viable global collaboration project, I need to investigate other existing projects so that I get a better sense of what is feasible in the classroom. Today's post is about two global collaboration projects that have provided inspiration for the project I hope to create.

Nature's Global Zoo
The first project that I investigated more deeply is one that I mentioned in a previous post on global collaboration: Nature's Global Zoo.

Image used with permission from Rusty Clark on Wikimedia Commons

   -In small groups, students will create zoos that represent the habitat and animals within that habitat from their area. 
   -The projects that the students will develop are detailed in the animals that are included, landscape of the park and each enclosure, finances, and publications (even including a tour guide script and safety rules for the guests and employees).
   -The zoos will be posted online so that students from around the world can "visit" the zoos from areas other than their own.

Subject Areas:
   -21st Century Skills

Age Level:
   -The lesson plan for the project is written for high school students.
   -Classrooms with students of younger ages are encouraged to incorporate whichever components of the high school project that "fit their individual comfort levels."

   -The time period given for the global collaboration project is January 1, 2017 through June 15, 2017.
   -There are no specific time or scheduling recommendations given on the site or in the assignment document.

Technology Requirements:
   -The instructors take a photo of the final projects and upload them to a shared gallery.
   -The students don't have to use technology to create the projects.

Communication Requirements:
   -Students communicate in their small groups in the classroom.
   -There is no communication between classes of students completing this project around the globe besides that they can view each other's projects via the gallery.
   -There are some "possible classroom activities" that encourage collaboration between classrooms from around the world, but these are briefly mentioned and details that would be necessary to actually complete these activities are not given (such as how to contact participating schools or what technology might be used).

Intended Outcomes:
   -Students will have an expanded knowledge of animal life in their own area from creating the zoo, as well as from other areas of the globe by investigating other students' zoos.
   -Students will have an increased sensitivity to global environmental issues, including an understanding about threatened and endangered animals and what measures are being taken to help those species.
   -Students will be "more globally in-tuned" by viewing other students' creations from around the world.

Reflection and Takeaways:
   -While this was marketed as a global collaboration project, the students don't actually collaborate with others around the world to make their zoos. The zoos are created in small groups of students from the same class, and photos of the projects are uploaded to a gallery. The global aspect is that students from other locations can view the zoos created by students elsewhere. I would like my project to have more global integration, actually encouraging students from around the world to work together to create their projects. However, I liked how the projects were uploaded to a centralized location for others to view, and I would like to somehow incorporate that idea into my final project.
   -This project did not have any technology requirements. Because I would like to incorporate global collaboration on a student-to-student level, they will need technology to communicate. Additionally, I would like the projects to actually be created through technology instead of in physical formats.
   -In general, the project requirements were more complex than I intend to create because this was written for high school students working together in the same space. In this project, students include a multitude of details, from the design of the zoo logo to the shows that will be put on in the exhibits. In my project, I would like to focus more on the animals themselves than the details of the park as a whole.
   -This project did not include any scheduling recommendations! I personally believe this may have been in an effort to allow teachers to spend as much or as little time needed on the project in their own individual classrooms. However, because my project will involve collaboration between students of different areas, there needs to be some scheduling guidelines so that the partnering schools stay in sync.

Weather Around the World
For my second project, I tried to find one that was more detailed and included interaction between the students actually participating. In this search, I stumbled upon Weather Around the World. It should be noted that this resource is a 9-week unit plan; however, for the purpose of this post I will be focusing solely on the global collaboration piece of the unit.

Image used with permission from Peel, Finlayson, and McMahon on WikiMedia Commons

   -Classes in the northern and southern hemisphere will partner up to share daily weather conditions in their own areas, determine similarities and differences in the weather, and explain why they think those similarities and differences exist.
   -Students will also discuss content topics related to what they have learned in each week of the unit to establish real-life connections between the content and the lives of people in various areas of the globe.
   -In collaborative groups between classes, students will brainstorm, build, test, and reflect on ways of cleaning/filtering water for survival after a natural disaster strikes and pollutes the water supply.

Subject Areas:
   -Social Studies
   -Language Arts
   -21st Century Skills

Age Level:
   -This project is written for second grade.
   -It could be adjusted for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

   -The entire unit is written for 9 weeks.
   -The unit is written so that each week, students videoconference with their collaborating classroom to discuss the weather conditions in their areas, the content topics that they have been learning, and (later in the unit) work on their water filtering projects.
   -The plan does not identify how long or on what day during the week the videoconferencing should occur.

Technology Requirements:
   -Students need to be able to videoconference, either in small groups or as a full class.
   -(What technology is specifically needed, such as 1:1 devices or a monitor for the full class, is dependent on the format that the collaborating teachers decide on for this project.)
   -The lesson plan suggests using technology such as Skype or Google Hangouts.
   -The creator also suggests publicly displaying the students' endeavors throughout the unit through Twitter.
   -The teachers need to be able to collaborate to determine small groups, videoconferencing times, due dates, etc., whether this be through the videoconferencing platform or though other technology (such as email or Google Docs).

Communication Requirements:
   -The teachers in the collaborating classrooms must communicate before the project launches.
   -The students in each classroom must communicate, either in small groups or as a full class.
   -It is recommended that students participating in this project speak the same language, though translators may be used if the two groups do not speak the same language.
   -It is recommended that collaborating classes form within similar time zones so that times to videoconference can be arranged between the groups.

Intended Outcomes:
   -Students will be able to develop relationships with their collaborative peers and learn more about their cultures through collaboration.
   -Students will be able to make connections between weather and its relationship to the location on Earth.
   -Students will understand how people have basic needs that are dependent on the environment and that weather can affect people's daily lives by positively or negatively affecting the environment.
   -Students will establish connections between the weather-related content they are learning in class and how this affects them and the students in their collaborating class.
   -Students will determine which materials work best as water filters.

Reflection and Takeaways:
   -This project was fairly vague in the requirements for communication between the students. I liked how it was up to the teachers to reflect on the technology they had available to them and decide between themselves whether their students should work as two full classes, split into small groups, or even partner up. Though this means that teachers working on this project would have more work to do to make that determination themselves, this project is more adaptable to different classroom environments due to the flexibility in the description.
   -I liked that this project was able to incorporate videoconferencing! I think videoconferencing is ambitious, but it can be extremely beneficial to the students if used appropriately. Because it limits the classes that are able to participate in a project (due to scheduling and time differences), I do not want to require videoconferencing in my project, but I plan to leave it as an option available to classes if they are collaborating in two areas in which this would be feasible.
   -I also liked that this collaborative project was built for younger students and gave them a fair level of autonomy! While I do believe that younger students need more guidance than older students, that doesn't mean that they can't be given a little freedom, such as choosing what they talk about with their collaborating class within the realm of the covered content. I hope to allow a lot of independence in my collaborative project as well.

What did you think about the projects I presented here? Have you participated in an outstanding global collaboration project that you think I should know about? Please share about it in the comments! And be on the lookout for my next post reflecting on my experience creating my own global collaboration project!

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