The 3 R’s of Global Collaboration (#flatclass Book Club – Part 5)

I’m a couple of weeks behind on my #flatclass reflections, but here are my thoughts on Chapter 6: Contribution and Collaboration …

Key ideas in this chapter included: “Receive, Read, and Respond“, the essential habits which underpin effective global projects; and an exploration of strategies for supporting communication, collaboration, and leadership within global learning communities.

While the focus of the bookclub was on supporting student communication and collaboration, I want to apply these ideas to the teachers in the #globalclassroom community, sharing some of the challenges we’ve faced, and the lessons I’ve learnt over the past year.

Building Community

The Global Classroom Project was designed as a meeting space & global collaboration platform, not as a single collaborative project (e.g. Digiteen). At last count we’ve hosted over 15 major projects, and welcomed hundreds of teachers into our online spaces. Yet, while we do our best to welcome new teachers into our community, we continue to confront the major challenge of connecting with our ‘lurkers’.

Our single greatest challenge is the first step: Saying ‘hello”.

While we provide the online spaces for teachers to connect, we have no control over their participation & engagement in our community & project spaces. I’ve learnt that different online spaces suit different people … and realised that less than 1/3 of our new teacher sign-ups become actively involved in our work.

This is not to say that these teachers aren’t there, but work pressures, over-zealous email spam filters, language barriers, and variations in school years are significant barriers to their active participation in global collaboration …

For me, our greatest success stories have emerged from a simple IM “hello” on Skype or Twitter. We need to establish the personal connection, translating the teacher’s name on the spreadsheet into a real human being. BUT, we need our teachers to make that first step – to receive, read, and respond to our communications; as some are finally doing – nearly 6 months after joining!

Learning for the future

As this past year has flown past, we have witnessed Global Classroom become an established feature of the global collaboration community. We fulfill a need; providing the space and connections for innovative teachers to explore new ways to flatten their classroom walls, and mentor new teachers in the art of global collaboration.

Global Classroom 2012-13 will be different, because our teachers are different, and because I’m different. We’re learning from our mistakes, and through the book club, I’m becoming more comfortable learning and working with the #flatclass community. We have separate identities and roles, but we are learning so much by learning together.

I may be a dreamer, but I believe we can make Global Classroom a world-leading educational community in the years to come.

Our work is pushing the boundaries of what is possible; and I believe that our implementation of some of the #flatclass “handshake” strategies & communication advice (Chapters 4 and 6) will enable us to improve the connections we forge with our people, who are the true leaders of educational change.

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