When we talk about collaborative learning most teachers think of group work, peer-teaching or social networking. But today’s digital technology offers us exciting new possibilities.
A secure, reliable wireless connection allows hundreds of students to download multimedia information and upload their work on mobile devices simultaneously.
Wireless devices enable students to access more information than ever before, making it possible for them to collaborate with others to write texts, solve problems, share audio and video, or connect ideas and concepts in new ways.
This ability to collaborate instantly, wherever they are, develops each student’s communication skills and allows them to connect their learning with the real world in ways we have never seen before.
The possibilities are endless; but here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Writing Texts Collaboratively – Wireless devices allow work from an individual student to be shared with the class at the touch of a button.
This technology is harnessed by apps such as Boom Writer (www.boomwriter.com), which enable students to collaboratively write and publish their own books.
Boom Writer provides a writing prompt, and each student writes and uploads their version of the rest of the chapter, using any ideas they like.
The prompt could be a story (to boost literacy skills), a piece of non-fiction (e.g. to boost history or science knowledge), or a list of vocabulary (for language learners).
After their writing is reviewed, every child can download the class’s (blinded) chapters on their tablet, phone, or laptop, and vote for the best one online.
The winner is included in a published physical book, which gives the work an exciting, real-life dimension.
The app encourages all children to work to their highest ability, and includes everyone in the learning process.
2. Taking Notes Together in Class – Another exciting way for students to collaborate is by using wireless devices to micro-blog notes during or after classroom teaching.
Students can use platforms such as Quaiku (http://www.qaiku.com/) to take notes, comment, ask questions, and connect their learning with what they already know.
They can also upload multimedia such as videos, images and website links that explain concepts and show real-life applications of what they learn in class.
The shared micro-blog can be a really valuable resource, especially for older students who can download it and use it later to revise for exams.
3. Constructing a Wiki Environment – Almost everyone uses websites such as Wikipedia to find out facts.
In this case, teachers ask their students to work together to write their own wikis using their wireless devices. Sites such as wikispaces.com are perfect for this.
The semi-structured wiki environment scaffolds the groups as they work together, but also allows them the opportunity to make the wiki-environment their own.
Each group researches and downloads key multimedia resources on a topic or page and uses it to upload their own wiki following specific task instructions.
In its final stages, different groups in the class review the work of others, using a digital forum to comment on the quality of information, its layout and presentation, and giving feedback for improvement.
The completed wiki is an online resource that shows a shared understanding of the topic and can be accessed wirelessly from anywhere.
4. Using Augmented Reality – Augmented reality (AR) technology makes the most of the possibilities of wireless technology in the classroom.
Apps such as Aurasma allow students to connect their learning to the physical world, transforming the entire school environment into a multimedia learning opportunity.
Students can use the app to scan any physical text, image or shape around them using their smartphone or tablet. This then triggers an image or video that provides new information on the trigger object.
For example, students can use the app to scan a mathematical problem written on a wall display. This will trigger a video of another student solving the problem in real time, which can be watched over and over.
Once the student has watched the video, they and can click on the image and practice their learning by downloading a new task.
Teachers can ask students to collaborate and tag the world around them with videos that connect their learning to the real world. Other students can use these tagged images as a learning resource.
English teachers could ask groups to summarise key moments in a text and tag them to character names; science teachers could ask their students to tag animated models of molecules to chemical symbols.
The opportunities for creative application are endless.
5. Collaborating Socially – One of the biggest advantages of wireless technology is that it makes sharing ideas, knowledge and understanding simple, wherever you are located.
Not only do educational networks such as Edmodo and My Big Campus make it possible for teachers, students and parents to connect and share the learning experience in a secure environment, but they also encourage students to take responsibility for their learning.
Teachers can instantly make and upload videos of the class learning with a smart device, and ask students to watch, reflect and comment on their progress during plenary sessions.
This type of collaborative learning platform allows teachers to digitally track each student’s contributions to the group, and also allows parents to remotely monitor their child’s progress.
This larger social collaboration allows for greater accountability and inclusion, making it easy for everyone to see how learning is progressing.
KBR has 30 years of experience successfully planning, installing and supporting bespoke networks for schools. To speak to one of our team about upgrading your WiFi or how WiFi can help your school, contact us on 0191 492 1492, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.