In some way, collaboration is what made us the mankind and societies we are today; it’s the reason why we’ve built civilizations and it’s what made building them possible. But even though it is such a crucial part of being human – at the same time it is not something that necessarily just happens, it’s something we need to learn.
So, learning to collaborate is one of the most important skills your students will learn – but it’s a subtle and fine art, a skill one needs to develop gradually and nurture throughout education and career.
Remember that collaboration is not “just” group work. Sometimes “collaboration” in schools means simply putting a bunch of students into a group to work on a task. But putting a bunch of people in a group doesn’t mean they will collaborate successfully. Working in a group doesn’t necessarily mean working together, and collaboration is all about working together. It’s an advanced level of group work that involves learning and knowledge sharing, planning, finding an agreement and implementing.
But don’t worry – there are many creative and interesting projects to help your students learn to collaborate better and have fun at the same time!
There’s a free tool called Bubblr, where your students can create comic strips using Flickr creative common images. This can be a great project for younger students – what child doesn’t like comics, right?
Your students could collaborate and create a science comic strip together. It could be the life cycle of a butterfly or frog, a journey of water… or some topics related to history, geography or even math. Everything is possible when one is creative! And you can and should adapt the subjects to your students’ age, interests and so on.
Whenever your students do something well – you can do something good! For instance, when students are practicing (be it chemistry, math, foreign language or whatever you want) you can donate some small amount to a cause. Or you can find other ways to connect their learning with good deeds as well.
There’s an interesting non-profit website called Freerice, where students can sign up. For each answer they get right, the website donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme to help end hunger. This way Freerice helps provide education to everyone for free + end world hunger by providing rice to people in need for free. What more could one ask for?
You could even have a friendly competition where each group tracks how many rice grains they helped donate throughout a semester.
If you really want to help students collaborate, it needs to be across disciplines so it reflects a real-world environment. This is a great opportunity for everyone to showcase different skills, and bring together science and music, math and foreign language, art and history within the same group.
Another important thing to think about is how the world has changed thanks to the technology. Back in the days, students prepared for presentations with huge drawings and maybe paper models etc. Nowadays, the students would probably prefer to make short vlogs (video blogs), to use Snapchat or Instagram stories, create Pinterest boards etc. instead of those “old-fashioned” ways we’re used to.
When it comes to collaboration itself, technology makes it easier, faster and better to work together, regardless of if a team is distributed across the globe or if they belong to a single classroom. CollaboraZon helps you share files, create events, exchange messages, comment, give feedback and more. It could be a great tool for your students to work together – and for you to work with your students. Give it a try – and get 1 month free.