Over the last semester I’ve worked with several groups of students on a variety of globally collaborative projects, and each time we complete a project, I ask for student feedback.

Usually, I like to post these right after we finish, along with a description of the project, but somehow time has gotten away from me. So, in the interest of sharing student feedback, I have included the highlights from 3 of our major projects: 1001 Flat World Tales, NetGenEd Sounding Board (following the same process from the Flat Classroom Project earlier this year), and Life ‘Round Here (following the process outlined after last year’s experiences), in this one post.

Interestingly, as I looked back at all of the feedback, there was quite a bit of overlap. Even though these projects were completed by different students in different grade levels, many of them shared the same takeaways.

We learned:

  • how easy it is to communicate with people in different time zones and in other countries using technology.
  • writing feedback for other students makes you think and helps you practice your Writing Workshop skills – it’s like using Writing Workshop in real life.
  • to accept other people’s ways of working and how to put our ideas together through cooperation.
  • to work together with partners better to complete our goal even if we were making mistakes.
  • we have a lot in common with our global partners.
  • sharing our work online made me aware of what we were saying.

We liked:

  • that we got to work with different people from other classes that we didn’t know how to work with, so we learned how to work with them and adapt to their way of working.
  • getting to know my international partner by reading their introduction and feeling like I know my partner even though they’re not in my class here at school.
  • how we could write about what we wanted to because it’s more fun to have your own choice for what to write about. I’m more of an expert on what I like.
  • that because it’s online we can watch it again and show it to our family.
  • that we were able to be creative with a partner.

Suggestions for improvement:

  • It would be nice to go on the wiki regularly and leave discussions to communicate with our partners.
  • I would like more practice being a peer-editor, especially on revising writing instead of just spelling and grammar.
  • I’m wondering if we’re going to use another wiki next year because we already know how to use it. I would like to do the project again next year because we’re experts (whole class agrees).

Final Thoughts

When I look back over this compiled feedback (and others from earlier this year), I am so happy to see that these students are becoming 21st century learners, as we have defined here at ISB. They are actually noticing and discussing their opportunities to collaborate and communicate globally, to be creative, to use a variety of technology tools in real life situations, to learn from their mistakes and to share their learning with others. These are the kinds of experiences we want all of our ISB students to have!

One other commonality that really stands out is that all of the students would like more opportunities to participate in similar projects. They feel a sense of accomplishment and growing expertise in these new modes of learning and would like more classroom experiences which include global collaborations. It seems that our students are ready for these kinds of experiences to be embedded throughout the curriculum at all grade levels.

What do your students think about their experiences with global collaborations?

0 thoughts on “Becoming 21st Century Learners

  1. Kim:

    Thanks for the timely post. I am a teacher librarian in a high-needs urban high school in upstate New York. The school has a rigorous IB program. I have been working in this school for two years now and have been struck by the insulation of the IB program. Goal setting for next year includes using technology integration to break down the walls. Our students must make international connections, associations, and collaborations by sharing, cooperating, and collective action. It will be a small scale enterprise to begin as both students and teachers engage. Actually, this year I have a number of adventurous teachers teased with a few appetizers. Thank you for sharing your always thought-provoking dispatches.

    Jim Schneider

  2. @Jim,

    You are wise to start small and get a few adventurous teachers on board first! The success of colleagues is always a key factor in getting teachers to try new things. The IB is always difficult to work with in terms of technology integration because the program is so traditional and insular. Anything you can do to help teachers reach their curricular goals through the use of technology is a great way to start. Good luck!

  3. I love seeing student feedback – I think this can be a motivator for teachers who are just learning about particular technologies or who are skeptical. How have you gone about prompting this feedback from students – discussions, particular questions?

  4. I love your students’ comments- I plan to share them next fall when proposing collaborative projects again with teachers here. If the voices come from students and not the specialists it may have more impact. It’s so valuable to regularly reflect with students on these “new generation” projects to share with others and reevaluate each frontier effort.

    This year we began collaborative projects and two really got off the ground. Student feed back at the MS level was positive and age-appropriately cool- they stated that regarding tech it wasn’t earth-shaking (as it’s their environment) but they benefited the most from the content and meeting other students around the world. Just what we hope for.
    The younger ones love the collaboration and although it took the kinder kids a while to grasp the reality, they very much looked forward to sharing and meeting each week.
    Thank you again for sharing and reminding me to share our reflections as well!

  5. Collaborative projects using technology is a great way to engage students in the topic that you want them to learn. Due to the fact that students are constantly texting, chatting, and communicating in a number of ways with friends, it is great to incorperate this with teaching a lesson. This would really keep students’ attention. It is hard for us teachers to compete with technology such as video games, cell phones, ipods, etc. If you can’t beat them join them. Embracing technology will keep teachers up to date with the world these students live in, therefore making us better teachers. What types of problems did you run into with your students during this project? It sounds like it went really well.

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  7. Technology is great, we can interact with people from different places in real time, helping us to learn more and love the technology. Great post Kim, good luck!

  8. @Diane,

    Agreed! Student feedback is a great place to start when trying something new with teachers. For most of the feedback I gather, I usually just have a conversation with students, asking them exactly the questions you see above:

    What did you learn during this project?
    What did you like about this project?
    What would you do differently (or what would you change) about this project?

    When I ask them each question, I always have the students to turn and talk to each other before sharing out with the class. Then we list all of the responses on the board to make sure I’ve documented all of them.

    Now that I’m writing all this down, I’m also thinking (especially for older students) that it might be valuable to do an anonymous Google Form with the same questions at the end of a unit – just to see if I get different responses.

    @Nancy,

    I totally agree that feedback from students is much more powerful than feedback from specialists!

    Thanks for sharing the feedback from your students too!

    @Kathy

    I do agree that using technology can be an immediate way to engage students, but I also think that we need to be careful that we’re not just providing entertainment (or promoting an “us vs them” mentality). Once we have technology in our classrooms that’s just as easily accessible as a pencil and paper, it’s not going to continue to be automatically engaging any more. We need to find appropriate ways to use the technology to meet the needs of our students – not just entertain them.

    I think the majority of problems we faced were related to internet speed in Thailand. Often the videos wouldn’t load right away and students were asked to be patient, which can be frustrating for them. Other than that, things were smooth.

    @Anthony

    Thanks!

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