What I loved about reading the article, World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others was that I was anticipating every idea that Will Richardson was about to bring up. I am a strong believer in the “Collaboration Age” and agree that there is a wealth of knowledge floating around out there surely needs to be tapped into.
Our COETAIL cohort is a prime example of the strengths of learning and sharing with others over the internet. As a group we are spread around the world, and most of us will never get the opportunity to meet face to face. We are, however, all in our “cohort” together and will spend the next few months working together and sharing ideas. In 3 short weeks I have already been enlightened by many of the comments and opinions I have read from those in this new community. I hope to be able to pull more and more on the resources here for my own classroom ideas.
The idea of working with others on different projects is not a new idea, but the ease at which it is now possible to link up with others around the world is amazing. It is of course second nature to many of our international students who were born into a world where they Skype with family abroad, post blog updates for their grandparents at home, and have their own email account from the earliest of ages. Asking today’s students to link up with other students around the world is now as simple as finding a time to meet with one of your colleague’s classes in the room next door.
Will Richardson does mention that “examples of this kind of schooling are hard to find so far, but they do exist.” This surprised me, until I went back to check on the date. March 2008. No wonder. As he predicted, this collaborative era is well and truly a part of many people’s teaching. As international school teachers, it is made even easier with the constant moving of teachers between schools. What a perfect way to find a link in another part of the world.
I did note though, that while Will Richardson did make some remarks regarding some of the challenges we are faced with when students use the many different forms of media available to them now, I would have expected a lot more about it. Yes there are the many, many documented safety issues to be concerned about. There is also that age old problem of copyright that is just going to get harder and harder to deal with. But there is also the issue of the students obtaining information that is utterly and entirely wrong. Wikipedia is often the example brought up for this argument. When anyone can change the information then how does the next reader know what is correct or completely made up. The same goes with students sharing information. If students are required to find facts then there are plenty of problems to be encountered when students are passing information back and forth between each other.
I do think, however, that as teachers are more adept with using all of these different forms of technology, when it becomes “second nature” to many of us, then the strengths of the “collaborative era” will be incredible.