Global collaboration is a journey which tends to take you in unexpected directions!
A year ago, I would never have dreamt that I’d be reading and reviewing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, nor would I have believed I would have the chance to connect and learn with the authors, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.
Rather than writing an ‘official book review’, I’ve decided to record my musings on the #flatclass book as I try to engage in the online book club over the coming weeks.
So, here are my musings on Chapters 1 and 2.
“21st century skills harness not only the power of technology, but the power of people” (p. 3)
Reading the introductory chapters, I was taken aback by the parallels between my recent (unpublished) writings about #globalclassroom, and the #flatclass authors’ thoughts on effective global collaboration.
Having written almost exactly the same words a few days previously, this statement reinforced one of the key lessons I’ve learned leading Global Classroom – that while our work was made possible by technology, it is our people who have made it a reality.
Our work has been successful because our teachers, all over the world, are actively supporting each-other’s professional learning, and sharing responsibility for the management (and success) of our #globalclassroom projects.
“The aim of global collaboration is to improve learning, flatten classroom walls, and develop authentic audiences” (p. 4)
As I wrote some time ago, we are creating “the online spaces for teachers and students to connect, share, learn, and collaborate on a global stage”. And we’ve succeeded in building community; providing the space and support network for teachers to connect and collaborate, where they can experience the powerful impact of global collaboration and learning first-hand.
Built by teachers, for teachers, The Global Classroom Project is enabling our students to share their learning with the world; and helping our teachers explore innovative, transformational teaching and learning practices. We’ve opened up a window to the world, and we can’t go back.
“Connect one person at a time, build trust, and move forward together.” (p. 20)
I was struck by Suzie Nestico’s comment in the first #flatclass book club session relating the success of global collaboration to “building trust in the online environment”, going beyond the intitial connections to engaging in meaningful collaborations.
We are starting to make this happen, particularly in our Skype group, where teachers, who came to us with little confidence and collaborative experience, are building online connections and friendships through IM conversations and skype calls.
With a little support and encouragement, these teachers are starting out on their learning journeys, beginning to engage in their very first, more meaningful global collaborations. Yes, these are small steps, but these teachers’ stories are inspiring their colleagues – locally, and around the world.
“It is time to be the voice of change.” (p.20)
“Learning globally includes making a difference to the world.” (p.7)
I never expected to lead the creation of a global learning community. I was ‘just’ a second year relief (substitute) teacher, who has never had a class of his own. Yet, my social networking presence enabled me to make that initial connection with Deb Frazier in Ohio, USA; and later, it provided the connections which underpinned the collaborative development of the Global Classroom community.
As Deb and I look forward to celebrating the first anniversary of our ‘Twitter connection’ in April 2012, we can’t believe how our #globalclassroom spaces have become vibrant, community-minded forums where our teachers and students are connecting, making friends, and beginning to collaborate globally.
We are making a difference in the world, and helping teachers become the “voices of change”.
So, I conclude with a simple “thank you”
Julie and Vicki, it is hard to believe that an exploration of the #flatclassroom website and project wikis would kindle a teacher’s dream, and ultimately lead to the collaborative creation of a new global community.
But it did.
My work has changed the way I see and interact with the world. I now have friends across 6 continents, and find myself in the extraordinary position of leading a global education community in my third year of teaching.
I have a lot to learn, yet I suspect I am becoming “a voice of change”. I’m helping to make a difference in the world; and as our grassroots community continues to grow and evolve, I’m not alone.