The long-time blogging buddies met face to face for the first time before the ISTE 2012 conference in San Diego. They presented together on educational blogging and global collaboration. This post summarizes their presentation.
Linda and Kathleen are both passionate about integrating technology in the classroom and have been heavily involved in educational blogging since 2008.
Kathleen’s 2012 class blog is http://4kmand4kj.global2.vic.edu.au/
Linda’s class blog is http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com/
A connection forms
In early 2009, Linda came across Kathleen’s class blog and from just one comment a rewarding friendship and collaborative adventure began.
The unique relationship has now spanned over three years and connected eight different cohorts of students. Throughout this time, the classes have moved from isolated to integrated, irregular to frequent, and from the superficial to rich global collaboration.
Despite being physically positioned in opposite hemispheres, Mrs. Yollis’ class and 4KM (formerly 2KM) connect each week via blogs, Skype, and other online tools. The two classes have worked on many collaborative projects together, some of which have included other classes around the world.
In 2011, two students from Kathleen’s class visited the United States and spent some time with Linda’s class. Other students and parents have formed special friendships and have connected via their own student learning blogs. Parents actively participate in the collaboration and establish their own benefits and rewards.
Journey from blogging to global collaborative projects
Linda and Kathleen began their online collaboration through the comment sections of their blogs. Conversations were happening in the comment sections, and it was clear that the classes had a strong interest in one another.
A year into their blogging relationship, Linda and Kathleen started Collaboration Corner. This blog was a place to further develop student relationships and focus the learning. Topics included projects about lunchboxes and the school environment.
This simple global project was a successful experiment which lead to other global collaborative projects such as:
Each project had a unique purpose and a range of different outcomes.
Using online tools
Kathleen and Linda like to integrate a lot of web 2.0 tools into their blogs and global projects. However, they believe the learning outcomes must be considered before choosing an online tool. Think about what you want your students to achieve and then choose the best tool for the job. When students become familiar with a range of tools, they can be given the creative freedom to present their work in a variety of ways.
On this page of Linda and Kathleen’s presentation blog, they list just some of the tools they have used regularly.
Tips for teachers
Effective classroom blogging and global collaboration are built around relationships.
Similar – look for classes of a similar age, blogging experience, and literacy standards.
Genuine – demonstrate that you are interested in the class, not just interested in building your visitor count. Avoid writing simple comments that just include a URL and an invitation to visit.
Consistent – comment back to readers regularly and drop by often if you’re interested in building a relationship.
Focus – don’t cast your commenting net too wide. Trying to establish too many relationships at once can be confusing for yourself and your students.
Connect – if you don’t know anyone to start a relationship, The Student Blogging Challenge is a great place to start. We also highly recommend Twitter for developing relationships with other educators.
When you are involved in global collaboration, Linda and Kathleen recommend:
Integration - don’t make blogging and global projects an add-on. Integrate your standards for mathematics, literacy and other subjects into projects.
Network – find a buddy to learn with, either someone at your school or another educator online. When you’re a beginner, it can be more fun to have the support of a friend.
Start small – we recommend starting with a class blog before moving into a global project. That way, students and teachers will have a skill set to bring to a global collaboration. Your first project might just involve two classes, like our Collaboration Corner.
Celebrate – while blogging and global collaboration is a lot of work, the rewards are plentiful. Celebrate your achievements and reflect on your success regularly!
Lots of educational bloggers got together at ISTE 2012 in San Diego.
Photo courtesy of John Miller.