giovedì 2 dicembre 2010

Collaborative learning on the web

To enable collaborative learning on the web these preconditions are entailed:
  • the pedagogical goal and content is clear to all participants (teachers and students) - planning
  • the participants have learnt to know each other and there's a trust between the partners (teachers and students) - sharing
  • there's a safe environment on the web, where direct communication  and collaboration can take place

How to collaborate

It's good to remember that in an international project the participants very often communicate using a foreign language. The tasks should not require too demanding level of communication. Here are some examples of how to work together.
Learning conversations: Probably the most important way of collaborative learning and construction of knowledge. The teacher or a student writes a short introduction on a given topic or theme. The students discuss the topic sharing information, asking questions and/or solving problems. Part of this would also be commenting and giving feedback. The learning process is visible to everybody. It entails ability to communicate in foreign language (between partners).

Creating presentations collaboratively: Partners can divide work so that one partner produces a photo story, paintings, a comic strip or a video, and the other produces texts or subtitles or a report or a narration. Students can form small groups with partners from different countries and work together producing articles or presentations or a webmagazine.
Making comparisons: Partners coming from different countries and different parts of Europe can work collaboratively by comparing different aspects of their lives. They can create Wikis consisting of pages with tables comparing weather, natural phenomena, school days and holidays, local festivals, food and eating, daily habits, history, arts, architecture etc.
Creating problems, puzzles or quizzes: Students can create quizzes dealing with history, culture, politics, flora and fauna of their own country for each other. Asking good questions or presenting a problem in an interesting way is often a lot more demanding than finding the answers.
Virtual tour: Groups of students from different countries travel together virtually. Each member of the group suggests a place to visit. They divide work: one studies interesting sights, one finds informations about hotels, camping sites etc, one studies local culture and festivals etc. Then the group members share the information they have collected.

Tools for collaborative learning:

  • Creating networks and communities with groups and forums: Spruz, SocialGo, 
  • Wikis for working together and creating shared documents: Wikispaces
  • Working together and sharing documents: Google groups
  • Mindmapping: bubbl.Us; Mindomo; Freemind; Mindmeister
  • Web meetings: Elluminate; Flashmeeting
  • Web magazines: Magazinefactory
  • Virtual learning environments (VLE): Moodle, Udutu; eTwinning Twinspace (freely available when you have found a partner and registered an eTwinning project). Virtual learning environments provide you with a set of tools that can be used for collaborative learning. Those usually comprise all the above mentioned tools + some more like chats, polls and questionnaires, exams, learning journals, groups, glossaries, photo galleries etc.

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