The ball was in our court…but we had to find the players

credit: SV adapted from CC geralt
credit: Stéphane Vermeulin, adapted from CC geralt

 

I used to think I could connect easily with my peers. It was presumptuous.

Now, I think that I was blinded by my overconfidence in my capacity to use social media and various messagers to communicate. I also did wait too much before contacting other coetailers to make a group to collaborate on the course 2 project. I was not sure how to start since I did not have any emails. I thought that the easiest way would probably to post a message on their blog and that worked well with Sarah who kindly replied through gmail to let me join the group she had agreed to start with Jen. Hallelujah!

Before I develop more my reflections about the course 2 project, I would like to talk about a remarkable film that my side-kick shared with me last week and I’m glad she did – she always has fab resources. It is called: “most likely to succeed”. Many of you  probably already know it, but I would like to mention it because I find it very relevant to Coetail in many ways.

By teaching digital citizenship and how to integrate technology purposefuly, we aim at preparing our students for the Future. Being able to create, to innovate and to think collaboratively, having a safe and meaningful use of technology, being critical thinkers and positive global contributors, getting ready for challenges that don’t exist yet are all essential dispositions and skills schools should be teaching by now….but many of them don’t, mostly because the focus is on passing standardised tests.

http://www.mltsfilm.org
http://www.mltsfilm.org

 

[if] you know more stuff, you’re going to be better off, for whatever sets of reasons. And the only way to get it is through the teacher,” he says in the film. “You don’t have to do that anymore. Today, content is ubiquitous, it’s free, it’s on every Internet-connected device, and it’s growing exponentially and changing constantly.

Source: Thilman, James. “‘Most Likely To Succeed’: Schools Should Teach Kids To Think, Not Memorize.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

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The dichotomy between, on one side many traditional curricula or Education systems designed to make students real “tests experts” and on the other side the types of capabilities that will be required in the Future can explain why we are struggling to seamlessly integrate technology and teach digital citizenship.

This brings me back to digital citizenship, which is precisely what Jen, Sarah and I wanted to teach in our collaborative unit. Soon after I got in touch with my new teammates, I then noticed that you could actually send messages through Coetail. Hello??? I can’t believe that it took me three long months to notice that this option was available! By reading my messages, I realised that Laura did ask me a long time ago a message to be part of her group…oops! Really sorry Laura. If there is any other collaborative task in course 3, I will be proactive and will make sure my peers know how to contact me.

CC S.Vermeulin Screenshot of my Coetail Dashboard
CC S.Vermeulin
Screenshot of my Coetail Dashboard

 

Finally, Sarah suggested to create a Google doc and this is how we collaborated. Thank you Google Apps!

The team could enter the court and the players could get the ball rolling.

Once we were on the court, Jen, Sarah and I did collaborate very well together on our unit planner. We were adding ideas, comments and resources one at a time depending on our own personal schedule. The unit does not look like what I had in mind when we started, but this is exactly what a collaboration is supposed to produce: you follow an unpredictable path that is getting clearer and clearer as any progress madopens the wato further progress. In my school, ICT and digital citizenship are never taught as a separate unit, but instead we always try to insert them in each and every unit. We used to do have an ICT course, but we found out quickly that without a meaningful context and a real purpose, our ICT teaching was not as powerful because too disconnected from any type of inquiry. Moreover, technology was perceived as an add-on.

Jen, Sarah and I decided to start from a real grade 5 unit called “Who we are” and then to see how we could integrate digital citizenship in a relevant way. The three of us probably had different backgrounds, positions, curricula and teaching approaches, but we could speak a common language to create this unit planner, thanks to the Course 2 readings.

 

 

However, using Google doc as the main communication channel has some limitations too. Although it is easy to work collaboratively, it is not always easy to figure out what your teammates would think about the initiatives you take or if they would have a different way to design the project. We were all very busy at this time of the year, just before a well-deserved break and unfortunately we could not organise a Skype/Facetime meeting to discuss our ideas. If I had to do it again, I would recommend to do so at the very beggining of the project so that we can define together the direction we want to head to.

I have learned a lot during this project. Collaborating with people who are far away modifies your own schedule and practices. I was fortunate to be with two good educators who had clear ideas and sound resources to share. Jen reorganised in a smart way and built on what Sarah and I had started. The result represents a mix of the three of us, about how we would like to teach digital citizenship in Lower School. I’m glad we have had this opportunity to connect and collaborate with coetailers from different schools on this project and I would like to thank my two teammates #Sarah and #Jen .

Indeed, the ball did roll between the Netherlands, Ukraine and Luxembourg. Now, let’s just keep it bouncing!

 

 

 

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