Global Collaboration: Beyond Social Networking

We often see Skype, blogging, and other web tools used to create Global Connections.  These are very valuable, but are not the only avenues to collaboration.  Below are three ways that you may enjoy collaborating.  The key is to pick whichever selection aligns the most effectively to promote student learning.

1.  Collaborative Content Curation and/or Creation:
We can easily take the concepts of curation/creation to the global level by incorporating the element of collaboration.  Consider the opportunities that would be created if you made contact with another class studying the same content as you are and populated and developed content together.

curator (plural curators)

  1. A person who manages, administers or organizes a collection, either independently or employed by a museum, library, archive or zoo.

The concept of Digital Curation takes traditional curation and considers the implications of curation in a digital setting and identifies the tools available to make curation successful and alive!

What: Digital curation is using a digital platform to systematically select quality material (videos, maps, articles, images, links to databases, forms, surveys, policies, rubrics, library catalogs) and make it available to other users on the web.

Digital Curation Digital Creation Hybrid Curation/Creation
locating and making a collection of others' content available on any platform (wiki, Google Site, LibGuide) in a manner which is designed and organized with a specific purpose. creating and making available new content a platform which provides others' content along with new content
example: teachers or students create a site which links to articles, blogs, or websites; embeds video, images, or maps; embeds a twitter hashtag feed; widgets to search databases or link to sites, etc. (typically centered around a specific unit of study) example: teachers or students create a site to house self created documents, articles, blogs, or websites; embeds self created video, images, or maps; embed a twitter profile feed for their own twitter account (typically centered around a specific unit of study) example: a hybrid of both columns described to the left to suit a specific purpose.
can be collaborative. teachers or students can team up together or with another school locally or globally to curate content for a specific purpose. can be collaborative.
teachers or students can team up together or with another school locally or globally to create content for a specific purpose.
hybrid can be collaborative.

Digital curation allows for asynchronous learning (learning at multiple points in time or or locations) and serves as a supplemental enhancement to a unit or program or an integral tool for your program. You can build a selection of materials that serve as a portal for specific needs. Consider what curation could provide to students who never enter your building. If you have cyber students or teachers, then you have cyber patrons. How can you serve their needs? The key is to really think in a broad way about the content offered.

Who: Aligned with the district collection development policy, teachers, students, librarians, public librarians, etc. contribute to building digital collections of information which support learning. Imagine the power of global collaborations as students throughout the country or world team up to curate and/or create content on one specific topic or subject that they are each learning about.

Why: Curation allows the curator to identify every single tool that can be resourced to support a particular topic and house multiple resources in one spot for users to find. Not only is it quality control, but it is a research time saver.

When: Maintenance still needs to be considered in the digital world. You will need to weed out of date or dead links, etc. You will also need to keep watch on your topic to see if there are great additions!

How: You can use many platforms. LibGuides is excellent - Google Sites or wikis (like this site) are free options.

Curation LibGuide (an invaluable overview on digital curation as a concept along with curation tools
Empowering Instructors to Become Effective Content Curators (an article by Alex Hottenstein)
Digital Curation Tools (a great post by Joyce Valenza)
Students as Curators (another great Joyce Valenza post!)
Library and educator links (yes..another great Joyce Valenza post! She is awesome!)

2.  Collaborative Bookmarking, Tagging, or Web Notations:
With global connections, the purpose for collaboratively bookmarking, tagging, or web notations might seem more abstract than other choices for connecting. may be wisest to start with an explanation of web notations.  We have learned that making personal connections to what we are reading is important to comprehension of text.  Additionally, we have learned that social connections make comprehension and connections even stronger.  Diigo is a program which you can install as an add-on toolbar to your computer and when you are working on the web, you can mark up any website with comments, highlights, etc.  This allows the reader to interact with online text.  Next comes the collaborative part!  Diigo allows you to set up groups and share your work.  Imagine a class who has a specific focus area such as genetic diseases.  The class can research the topic and mark up websites.  The class can share to the group on diigo and keep in touch with information as it is located and notated upon.  To take it a step further, classes locally or globally can unite to do the same!!!  It is a powerful concept.

Now let's consider the same concept for tagging.  A class can create a twitter hashtag and begin to publicize and follow it.  Since Twitter is a public site, if the hashtag is more generic, it may become a global collaboration without even needing to make an intentional step to collaborate.  This does not mean that you cannot make that intentional step with another group of people.  You may also create a more coded hashtag to use with others to connect on twitter and keep it between your smaller group.  The same goes for Flickr tagging!  The best idea that I can think of for Flickr tagging is if a class was working on something very visual such as watershed work, this class could compare the geography of the watershed with a group in another region or country.

Resources for Bookmarking and/or Note Taking

Wikipedia article on Social Bookmarking

Article on using Twitter hashtags

Article on why to tag Flickr photos and images

3.  Collaborative Mapping:
Global Connections can be made with regards to mapping. Online maps allow people to create personal or shared maps and pinpoint geographic locations along with adding related video, text, images, and links. We have the opportunity to collaboratively build maps and this can happen on the global level. If your class is focusing upon a specific geographic area, collaborating on an online map is a great choice!

What is an Online Map?
Online Maps can be created to link geography, images, and video together by an individual or group and can be made privately or publicly viewed.

How can Online Maps be used educationally?
Google Maps has a feature called My Maps that can be very powerful in education. For instance, we have a teacher studying the Russian Revolution and he wants his students to compare and contrast the Russian Revolution to recent uprisings in the middle east. For a portion of this assignment, he is having his students create a Google Map and pinpoint three locations associated with three major events in one country. Within the dialog box associated with each pushpin, the students are adding the name of the specific uprising, a description of the event including two catalysts that spurred the event, plus one link to an article or video (which they will embed to fit fully within the dialog box). Once they have pinpointed three locations, they will draw a line from location to location to further communicate the order in which the events have taken place.

Google Map Maker
Use Google Map Maker to improve the map of places that matter to you. Update the actual map as seen by millions of people on Google Maps.
Map Maker YouTube Channel

Scribble Maps was recently a favorite at an in-service training because the teachers felt it had features that Google Maps did not have.

Google Lit Trips are becoming commonly known and well regarded for taking students to literary settings and virtually travelling the path that the protagonist travels.
Google Lit Trips

Tags: collaboration, connections, global

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Another great platform to use in regards to the first point you made is ePals.

I know a teacher who is currently connecting with another class in Germany to work collaboratively on a project. The site is easy to use and extremely secure.

That is great feedback.  I know we will be reaching out next year much more than this year and I will be sure to put epals as one of the first avenues that we try.  Thank you!!!

This is such great information for me.  I'm just getting back into teaching and need new innovative ideas for my math classes.  I am doing a long term part time sub position in High School Math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2 & Geometry).  I'm currently taking classes to renew my teaching certificate, but my certificate is Elementary and Middle School in math & health so teaching in the high school out of my area.  I'm a little overwhelmed with how much I'm missed out on technology since I've been out of teaching, but I'm excited to try some new things involving my lessons.

Michelle Buchanan



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