Reimagining A “Classroom” – A Global Collaborative Project

What is a Global Collaborative Project?

A global collaborative project is a project that students work together on, either during the process, or share between different communities to come up with a final product. 

In “5 Ways to Inspire Students Through Global Collaborations”, Katrina Schwartz gives some awesome information about global collaborations and the benefits that students have through participating in one of these  projects. Basically, and like we all are aware, students learn more when they are actually engaged. And a great way to get a student engaged, is to have them interact with other people around the world! Not only will students be more engaged, but they will also learn some of those harder life lessons when working, like problem-solving, COLLABORATION (the most important), and to be open-minded to others’ cultures, opinions, and work. 

ISTE has even posted some insightful tips for how to get started with a global collaboration project, you can read their post here. Some highlights, and my personal favorite tid-bits, of their blog post:

  • “You gotta believe” in your project idea, and your passion will shine to others, helping them to get motivated and interested in being a part of your project
  • “Dream a little” of what the possibilities could be, let your imagination run wild! And let your students and other participants dream a little as well… there is no one correct way to complete this project and no one end result. 
  • And my absolute favorite… “Let go”. You have to let the project go where it will. Maybe you thought there would be a different end, but as ISTE states “resist the urge to shut it down if it takes unexpected twists and turns.

What Could Go Wrong?

Well, even though there are SO MANY aspects of global collaboration projects that sound downright amazing… they have some really challenging pieces to them. I found this out when trying to begin my project in the middle of an international pandemic. So while I have an extremely optimistic view of the benefits of these projects, let’s talk about some of the things that are challenging. Here is the story of my project.

“Reimagining a Classroom”

First, I started by researching global collaboration projects, the why behind them, how to implement them, project ideas, and so on. There was an awesome edchat that I participated in on Twitter focused specifically on #globaledchat – they also host continuing edchats if you are ever interested! 

Next, I came up with the project idea: students will “reimagine a classroom”. The general gist of the project is below…

Introduction of Project (ASK)
  • What is a design process (Engineering design process the best choice?)
  • What did school used to look like? 
    • What do schools need to have today?
    • Building needs vs. community needs vs. student needs?
  • Students will write their own definition of a classroom
  • Students will create rubrics to evaluate each step of the engineering design process
  • Students will self assess “ASK”
Students will “reIMAGINE the classroom” 
  • Students will think of ways to reinvent the classroom (where, when, who, “why”?)
  • Students will research school systems and designs that differ from their own (private, charter, hybrid, home-schooling, international programs, etc.)
  • Students will analyze those school systems
  • Students will self assess “IMAGINE”
Students will PLAN their classroom 
  • Students will work through the engineering design process in order to work out any potential errors in their plans
  • Students will complete an indepth look at the pros and cons of their new classrooms
  • Students will self assess “PLAN”
Students will CREATE a model 
  • Students will create a presentation on their process
  • Students will include some form of model for their classroom
  • Students will self assess “CREATE”
Students will hold EXPERIMENTS for “product testing” with their collaborative group
  • A collaborative group will help brainstorm scenarios that would present a challenge to the created “classroom”
  • Students will self assess “EXPERIMENT”
Students will IMPROVE “classroom” design
  • Students will reflect on feedback given by collaborative group
  • Students will improve their design based on feedback given by collaborative group
  • Students will self assess “IMPROVE”
Students will present on their experiences and reimagined “classroom”
  • Students will create a presentation on their process
  • Students will include some form of model for their classroom

Now For The Challenges

When I was working through this project, I kept a list of pros and cons. While the list of pros were MUCH greater, the cons list still made light of the hardships of doing a project like this. Here were some of my thoughts specifically related to “Reimagining a Classroom”:

  • Could be very personal for students, some students have had a really challenging time with remote learning, while others are thriving
    • We will need to go over respect of others ideas, and help students to not put down other ideas because they do not agree with them
  • Could bring up trauma that has happened during school closure (how to address this?)
  • Students are currently not as active as normal with schoolwork
  • Feels like a lot of teacher preparation when the point of the project was to get students motivated to seek out information? Is this okay still? Should something be changed?

And then there were the general problems with global collaborative projects in general:

  • It can be HARD to find teachers to work with from outside of your own “sphere”
  • Right now, we are having a lot of struggles to get students involved in their “remote learning”
  • There is quite a bit of teacher preparation and work that goes into this, maybe this would be a reason that others do not want to be involved?
  • There are potential student safety risks when sharing student information
  • What could it look like if some of the participating teachers or other members of collaborative groups don’t fulfil their duties?

Overall, Is It Worth It?

YES! YES, YES, YES! It is always worth it for educators to find ways to engage students and teach those harder to understand lessons like team work, problem solving, and getting to know others with different backgrounds then their own. Students can collaborate from all over to have one wonderful finished result that ends up making the world feel a little smaller. 

What global collaborative projects have you tried? Or have you heard about? I’d love to learn more!

References

Schwartz, K. (2012, November 19). 5 Ways to Inspire Students Through Global Collaboration. Retrieved June 01, 2020, from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/24949/5-ways-to-inspire-students-through-global-collaboration

ISTE, T. (2019, December 16). 7 steps to starting a global collaboration project. Retrieved June 01, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/explore/In-the-classroom/7-steps-to-starting-a-global-collaboration-project

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