Teachers often focus on tools such as blogs that allow their students to connect to the outside world. This is fantastic because it allows students to see how their learning connects to their ‘real’ lives and helps to bridge the gap between their school and home lives.
In order to create a collaborative classroom environment, however, students need to know how to work with each other as well as with people from around the world. There are a number of ways that students can use technology to connect to one another, both while at school and at home, to help create a collaborative environment.
Create a Collaborative Classroom
Edmodo is the go-to tool for many educators. It is popular with people who love technology, and people who are only just beginning to integrate it into their teaching. While it works on both laptops and tablets, it is slightly easier to use on laptops. There are several steps to submitting work to Edmodo on the iPad, and I have found it takes students quite a long time to become confident doing so.
It is fantastic at teaching students to use social media effectively, and to connect students as a whole, and for any small group activities. If your students become confident at submitting work, it is also a great way to leave feedback on students’ work.
Celly is a fantastic tool for quick comments, questions and thoughts. It works a little like Twitter, with 140 characters and hash tags, but instead of sending your ‘tweet’ to the world, it only sends to your ‘cell,’ which only includes people you have invited in. The main advantage of Celly is that students of any age can use it (unlike Twitter) and it allows students to ask quick questions, or post resources without broadcasting it using their normal Twitter account.
Wikis are quite an old tool now, and are rarely discussed in EdTech forums anymore. They are still an extremely useful tool for building knowledge as a class. Schools can use them across a class, year level or whole school to help build and share content.
My students have used them in small groups when planning personalized inquiries, and as a class to build resources they could use for summative assessments. They are also simple to use, compared to many sites, so are also suitable for younger students, or students unfamiliar with working in a collaborative classroom.
Pinterest is a great site to use with students over 13. There are so many things that students can use Pinterest for! They can pin and share their favourite books, great websites, ideas for taking action in an inquiry, sharing their blogs with their class and the world.
The fantastic thing is, you don’t have to follow everything someone pins, so if a student just wants to follow a classmate’s board on the inquiry, and not their board about paranormal romance books, they can. It’s visual nature also means that it is fantastic for students who find staring at a page of words limiting.
Wiggio is an alternative to Edmodo, with slightly more options available. There are no age restrictions on Wiggio provided there is parental permission, but students under 10 would probably find the site challenging. Like Edmodo, it gives students a space they can connect to the classmates and teachers but also allows for chat rooms and virtual meetings (but only when they are planned in advance).
This is particularly useful for students who travel overseas for a significant time, or when a large group task is due. There is a lot of potential in this site, and really only limited by what a teacher can think to do with it.
What tools are you using to foster a collaborative classroom? Share your favourites in the comments below!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, flickingerbrad.