|Posted on May 24, 2015 at 8:05 PM|
Informing educators about the importance of embedding student collaboration into classroom practice has been a top priority for many Australian educators and experts for some time. unfortunately, the message of what 'collaboration' actually means has been lost amongst messages of 21st Century Learning, flipped learning techniques, and other terms that many simply associate with jargon as opposed to the latest teaching pedagogies. Collaboration is universally defined as a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem.
Microsoft and Google have both introduced classrooms that promote collaboration regardless of the device that students use via Office 365 and Google Docs respectively. Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time. . Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time.
Microsoft Australia and New Zealand have joined Microsoft world wide in establishing an educators network 'Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators' which has targeted the top technological teachers in Australia and New Zealand. The overall focus of this program is for its Expert Educators to share their expertise with their peers, schools and other educators in an attempt to work towards attaining a common goal of creating pure collaborative learning environments within schools. True collaborative environments are seeing students create work simultaneously on the same document using different accounts. This is significantly different to a group of students sharing a device (typically a PC) and completing a group assignment. This is also different to students working on the same document and then emailing it to each other for others to work on it. True collaboration permits any number of students share their ideas in real-time. By learning this skill in the classroom, students will develop long-life skills that they can use outside of class time and apply to even non school based projects. Whether it is formal or informal education, learning typically requires participation in a social process of knowledge construction. Knowledge emerges through a network of interactions, and it is distributed and mediated by the people and the tools that they use for interacting. Perhaps this is what prompted Microsoft to purchase Minecraft. Minecraft is a great collaborative tool that educators students about numerous syllabus based topics through play. Web 2.0 tools such as these provide students to share their ideas via text as well as verbally which provides them with additional opportunities of communicating with a clear student voice.
Thus, in order to enhance the collaborative practices that exist in your classroom, it is highly recommended that you consider introducing at least one activity by the end of the school year to provide you with a succinct understanding of how it can be embedded long term in future years.