Tag Archives: collaboration

Collaboration as Living, Breathing Learning

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Using collaboration in the classroom is now more important than ever before.  Over the course of the past three-hundred years in America, education has evolved.  Some would say that it has not evolved quickly enough, however.  Education cannot seem to keep pace with our constantly-shifting society.  Now, because of the massive changes that we have seen over the past twenty years due to technological innovations, education seems to be farther behind than ever.  Yet, many educators are taking great strides to remedy this gap between the modern world and traditional education.  In my opinion, fostering meaningful collaboration in our classrooms should be our first aim.

Outside of school, students are connected to one another almost constantly through Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, Flickr, online video games, and hundreds of other social networking sites and applications.  Anything that these students want to say or show is broadcast almost instantaneously to these communities, members of which have the option of responding.  For today’s students, this has become commonplace, not something to be amazed or totally baffled by, which—because of my placement on the edge of the digital immigrant and digital native generations—I see as a completely legitimate reaction.

But it’s not just students who are becoming dependent on social media.  Many adults are joining the social networking communities as well.  Employers and employees are relying more and more on such technologies for communication and collaboration within and outside of the workplace.  As we move deeper into the twenty-first century, today’s students will certainly need to have experience using digital media, especially social media and collaborative technologies, in order to succeed in their chosen fields.

Because of the changing nature of our society, and the changing way that we interact, technology has become integral to collaboration.  Therefore, we should make use of its capacity to connect people within a single classroom or across the world.  Not only can we use such technologies to stimulate engagement, but also to promote meaningful engagement.  By working collaboratively within the classroom or with others outside of it, students encounter new perspectives and ideas, navigate disagreements, adjust understandings, and learn when to lead and when to follow.  Meaningful interaction can occur face-to-face or digitally; it doesn’t depend on the medium but on the instruction, project, and student goals.  Collaboration allows students to approach the learning process together and teach one another.  Why not use students’ interest in being connected to other people to our (and their) advantage?

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Conspiracy Theories: Collaborative Podcast

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Please click HERE to view our Radio Show Podcast on Conspiracy Theories!

I had so much fun creating this podcast!  It was definitely difficult but in a different way than typical homework assignments.  It was worth the struggle, in more ways than one.

First, I loved the experience of collaborating with my classmates, John and Tim.  If I had tried to create the podcast by myself, it would not have been nearly as fun.  The experience of collaboratively writing a script and using pieces of each person’s input gave each of us better ideas.  It became a better piece because there were three minds working on it instead of one.  Making mistakes was also a lot more fun when I had others to laugh about it with.

Second, I have never made a radio show before, and I learned a lot about the process.  It was really difficult to each write a different section of the show while keeping elements consistent, such as the personalities of the narrators, the tone of the dialogue, target length, etc.  These are components of any radio show or podcast that I didn’t consider until I actually made one.

Third, I have a whole new appreciation for those who use audio and video editing software with proficiency.  This is the second project for which I have used Audacity, and I have certainly improved a lot.  However,  it still took hours to edit out all of our mistakes, input sound effects, music, and commercial breaks, and time everything correctly.  When using technology, there are always all sorts of complications, such as needing the LAME software in order to convert Audacity projects to MP3 files.  Trying to get music files to one another without actually driving to meet one another and without being able to convert to MP3 files forced us to find many ways around these limitations.

Finally, I was really proud of our final product.  We all worked so hard to make the radio show the best that it could be within the time frame.  I found myself working for hours to get the timing perfectly right on each section and element of the show.  I certainly cluttered up my computer with so many saved “in-progress” files.  It was all worth it when we shared in class and saw that our classmates enjoyed it as well.  Since we were actually going to be sharing 20-minutes worth of our work, we wanted to make sure it would be 20 minutes well spent.

I think the benefits of using technologies such as podcasts in the classroom are fairly obvious here.  Our group spent a lot of time (too much time in relation to the work we put off for other classes!) and effort on creating a product that we could be proud of.  Students, when given an assignment in which they are encouraged to use so much creativity and that will actually be showcased for others to view, will put a lot more effort into the project.  This added effort will also result in more learning because the skills that we utilized writing, performing, compiling, and editing this podcast are certainly applicable to other genres, disciplines, and the Common Core State Standards.

 

For more information and outtakes, view our “The making Of” Video.