Online global collaboration is a major component of being a modern global educator. Together we are stronger and this shows through global collaboration. Global collaboration allows us to teach an learn together. There are eight norms of global collaboration that each collaborator normally abides by but in this post I will only focus on the first two norms. These first two norms are arguably the most important for any global educator, they consist of being prepared and having a purpose.
Norm 1: Be Prepared
Being prepared is a good piece of advice for any scenario. Whether it is in sports, economics or education, preparation allows for two great advantages. The first advantage is that if something is to go wrong you are ready to adapt to that new obstacle. Additionally, being prepared gives the advantage of confidence. When you are prepared, you know the content of the scenario and you are able to be sure of what you are doing, saying, or presenting. This confidence limits any hesitations you might have.
In terms of global collaboration, being prepared means having a plan for connecting. You must find which platform you will use to connect with others; examples include Skype and Google hangout. Additionally, be prepared with who your partners will be in this specific collaboration or hangout session. Finding other members of your PLN who share similar interests is a good start to choosing who you will invite to this event. Another major problem could be technical difficulties. It is important to ensure that the platform you are using is compatible with where ever you will be hosting from. A potential problem could be school servers blocking specific websites. In being prepared, it is important to think of little things that might happen. The possibility of time zone differences and students not being able to access specific materials at home are examples of these potential problems. When collaborating, it is also important to set guidelines for what is expected from the other teachers and the students. How often do you expect to communicate? Weekly? Daily? Will there be synchronous meetups? Asynchronous sharing? Perhaps both! The important thing is that all students know what is expected from them. How will you and other teachers communicate before reaching out to the students? When using Skype and Google hangout, should students ask questions during the presentation? Or after? All of this should be discussed BEFORE the collaboration takes place. Once every participant agrees on these protocols, you can officially deem yourself prepared.
Norm 2: Have a Purpose
Although this may seem obvious, having a purpose is essential for successful collaboration. In fact, having a purpose is part of the planning discussed in Norm 1. What are you trying to achieve through this collaboration? Is this a short-term or long-term project? What will students be sharing with one another during this project? It is important to make the purpose clear. When knowing the purpose of collaboration, it is easier to plan ahead. You then know how much planning you have to do and whether the collaboration will be synchronous or asynchronous. With a purpose and plans, you are truly ready to begin collaboration.
As I stated above, Skype and Google hangouts are good tools for global collaboration. Additionally, blogs such as this one can be a great tool for global collaboration. Students can write their own blog posts, as well as comment on other students blogs from across the world. This is a great idea for collaboration for teachers in different areas. Students love the idea of communicating with people across the country (or even the globe) and they are able to see many new perspectives. Here is a Youtube video about students from England who collaborated with students in India through blogging. This is an essential reason for global collaboration. It is an amazing lesson to see new perspectives from different parts of the world. Also, global collaboration can include speaking with professionals over video chat which shows student that what they are learning is used in the real world. Becoming globally collaborated keeps students engaged in lessons. The list of reasons for the importance of global collaboration goes on and on!
Previous generations would have most likely dismissed the idea of teaching students primarily through the use of technology. However, education reform is in effect more than ever in recent years. The idea of the, “Global Educator,” and “Global Learner,” are beginning to alter the way that new educators come into schools and their ways of planning and teaching lessons. Previous restrictions of classroom walls are now obsolete as any teacher or learner can collaborate with one another through the use of the internet. Additionally, student-centered learning is beginning to become recognized as a legitimate teaching style. This combination of the use of technology in the classroom and implementation of student-centered learning has led to an increase in the use of student blogging.
I did not get the opportunity to create an educational blog until college. In fact, this is my very first blog. When I first began writing this blog, I was not too sure of the educational and personal benefits that I would receive from my writing. However, after about eight weeks of blogging I have really learned what a student can gain from having a blog. The major benefit that I have found through blogging is the communication and collaboration that I am able to have with my fellow classmates. As well as this, there is no limitation to how much I can learn and what I can choose to learn.
For students, a sense of confidence can really be gained through blogging. In the past, students would be prompted to write an essay, revise it and hand it in to the teacher to be graded. After the teacher briefly read the essay and graded it, the essay would be handed back to the student, most likely never to be seen again. With the use of blogging, a student can write on either an assigned topic or a topic of their choice. After posting their work, not only is the work available to the teacher, but also to the outside world. Other students can comment on their work, giving positive feedback and constructive criticism. This makes a student feel like their work matters and they are not just writing it for a grade. It is this connection between the classroom and the outside world that yields a smooth transition from school to the real world. If students are already communicating with the outside world while they are in school, they will not feel much different when they become part of the outside world. In this video, two young students talk about the benefits of blogging and why they love blogging!
In an article posted by George Couros, he lists five reasons that students should use blogging. That article can be found here. These reasons include students could reflect on their own thoughts, develop literacy techniques, have a voice, archive their work and develop a positive digital footprint which is important for the future of the world. I found this article to be accurate after reacting with blog posts of middle school students from Oregon. These students were extremely excited to get comments on their posts from college students like me who lived across the country. Blogging can potentially transform the way that we teach and learn. Although this method seems atypical of the education that we have known in the past, blogging could be a great catalyst for the future in education reform.
For one of my college courses, my professor asked that we watch a TV show in another language with subtitles in English. After scrolling through Netflix, I found a German show called, “Altes Geld” (“Old Money”). I watched the first episode was called “Buschtrommeln” (“Jungle Telegraph”), and can be found right here. The show focused on the very rich family of Rolf Rauchensteiner. Although extremely wealthy and powerful, Rolf finds that it is extremely difficult to find a liver that he needs to stay alive after being diagnosed with hepatitis. The show really depicts the materialistic views that the whole Rauchensteiner family has. When Rolf tries to explain to his wife that he is going to die within a year he tells her that he has some bad news. She responds by saying, “Have you donated your fortune?” After answering no she says, “Then it can’t be that bad.” This shows what is truly important to his wife. She doesn’t seem to even be too concerned when he officially breaks the news to her. Additionally, the show focuses on the beautiful houses that each family has and the Mercedes Benz’s that they drive. The remainder of the first episode deals with various wrongdoings. These include a gambling addiction that one son has, another son’s estrangement from the family, suicide attempts from the daughter, drugs and an affair between one son and the step mother. Despite being wealthy, nobody in this family truly loves each other.
I found that this show was not too far off from American culture. It is often said that rich, materialistic people are the least happy in life. True happiness comes from genuine human connections. The saying “Money can’t buy everything,” applies in this show because Rolf has all of the money possible yet cannot actually buy a liver. He must, instead, find somebody who loves and wants to help him. When Rolf tells his kids about his disease, they only care about the will. This shows the lack of connection between the family. Another similarity to American culture was that at one point the daughter met a man at a train station and he said that he knew her from Facebook. This shows how globalized social media really is. No matter where you are in the world, America or Germany, anybody can know anybody from online. One last similarity was a character who was in the “Green Party,” of politics. This man was very focused on cleaning up the environment and preserving the Earth. I feel no matter where you are, saving the environment has become a worldwide concern. Rolf tried to offer this man 7 million dollars for his liver but the man declined.
Some cultural differences I found were that the characters talked extremely fast throughout the whole entire show. Conversations would go from one character talking to the next in the blink of an eye. Additionally, a creepy piano tune played throughout the whole entire show. I found this interesting because I don’t remember ever hearing that on an American show before. It also seemed like the characters were less friendly in this show to one another than we are here in America. It was hard to determine if this was due to their wealth and arrogance or due to their culture. The architecture in the show was beautiful. The show took place in a city with buildings which were beautifully designed and looked almost like castles. I could really notice the European-like style to them. I have never seen buildings like that in America before. Also, at one of the clubs a son attended, all of the bartenders wore duck masks. I found this interesting as the bar was called “Dark Duck.” No scene really depicted any of the characters eating, yet they did drink wine in multiple scenes. The weather was very nice throughout the whole show.