ISTE Student Standards 6 and 7 focuses on creative communication and global collaboration. Providing opportunities for students to engage in this can feel daunting when looking through all the available digital tools and curriculum. Since there are so many platforms available to enable creative and global collaboration, the real question comes forth, which digital tools are more apt to be used successfully? To start using digital tools and platforms within our classrooms, we often search for what we should use and have to wade through what resources are ‘good’ and what resources are not. For myself, this often involves me going down a google search rabbit hole and emerging inspired yet confused about what to use because there is so much out there. It reminds me of how I will stand in the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Even though I know what I usually buy, I look at it all and try to figure out what is the ‘best’…is there something new that is better? Sure, I could go with what I usually get but what if there is something better to whiten my teeth or freshen my breath longer.
Much like toothpaste, there are so many digital tools to use and ideas to follow and though it may be tempting to use what you always use, it is important to be available to other options. Many digital resources are similar so deciding what to use needs to be a combination of knowing what has worked for others (safe, dependable, engaging, etc.) while still being open to trying out new technologies – even if they flop – and picking one (or many) that work for what makes sense in your classroom. Knowing what has worked but being open to what is new are important ways to stay fresh, innovative and flexible while also keeping students safe, interested and having student agency and input!
A resource that can help educators learn about the many resources out there is Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration which is an unbranded, user-driven resource for teachers looking for projects and resources to collaborate with other classes around the world. What I like about this resource is that it gives you a starting point with the option to learn how to use the guide (with a beginners focus), connect to global projects that make sense for your goals and then search through guides, curricula, communities and organizations. This is a great resource for UbD because you can pinpoint what you want to achieve and then find the right path to get you and your students there. Educators could take an idea or project they want to implement in the classroom and then search for projects and/or resources that have been successful and then launch their own version with the tools and resources at their fingertips.
To kickstart your vision, it is always helpful to learn about classrooms that have had success and then look backwards to see how they achieved this. One resource that helped me to think about purposeful projects and how to get started was a slideshow from Channel Pro Network, 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms. Each example had purpose and made sense for the classroom and community environment it was a part of. Also, these examples reiterated the idea that creative global collaboration does not need to be cross continent or far away. It absolutely can be, and what a wonderful cultural experience that is – the example of a North Carolina school collaborating with a Swedish school for a science project was wonderful – but it can also be what helps to connect communities that are feeling unconnected. The example shared of schools in Kodiak, AK using digital tools to collaborate with schools on remote islands in the area meant that a communities that felt disconnected were brought together via creative communication and collaboration. Another connection I made was that it is important to use a variety of platforms and resources at times. There may not be just one ‘thing’ that does it all. The more we are aware of and open to new technologies, the more we are able to combine what we need to implement for it to be personal, purposeful and productive – and most importantly – long lasting and creative.
I think when we connect global collaboration and creative communication together, this connection with others opens up flexibility in creative thinking for students because of different perspectives. In the Edutopia article, The Power of Digital Story, 5 factors are suggested to keep in mind when sharing stories but I believe it would work for any creative communication situation.
The 5 factors are:
1. Create space for listening
2. Persuade with the head and the heart
3. Lead with the narrative
4. Amplify with images
4. Nurture the Process
5. Understand the tools (Dillon, 2014).
Students of all ages have a desire to communicate and storytelling is a meaningful way to share and learn from others on a variety of topics but science, math, global issues, and more benefit from these factors being kept in mind and can help influence empathy and positive communication within the global and diverse communities we interact with.
Overall, I hope from this post that you will not stand and stare at all the toothpaste in the aisle and instead grab hold of one, or two or three that could work and start brushing, see what you like best and what makes sense with the vision. Use the tools and resources mentioned to see what is out there that could work for you, your students and the goals you are all working towards. Shift to something else if it doesn’t. Be inspired by what others have learned from and experienced, add to the resource/project page on Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration when something does work to share with fellow educators. I tend to think I want a clear path that states exactly what I should to do achieve these ISTE standards but what I have come away with is that how it becomes purposeful is that I get to decide. Instead of blindly searching, let’s look for strong examples and guides that can lead us down the right path and then be ready to forge ahead independently where it makes sense for you and your students.
And finally, don’t forget to floss – there are a lot less choices for what floss to buy so that should be easy. This would be the ‘do I use a computer or tablet’ question which is much easier to decide!
Channel Pro Network (2018). 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved from https://www.channelpronetwork.com/slideshow/5-examples-collaborative-technology-k-12-classrooms?page=1
Dillon, B. (2014). The power of digital story. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon
“ISTE Standards for Students” Retrieved from www.iste.org/
Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration. (2019) Retrieved from https://www.globaledguide.org