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Complex collaborations - online & virtual

Reports on a pilot study to develop collaborative projects at a distance through an online format. Students researched and developed field-based science projects; delivered them to students and other teachers through websites & wikis; and presented them through their own pod in a virtual world. Careful scaffolding of the work; required weekly reports; and shared development efforts created interesting, student-engaging projects (in most cases).

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Complex collaborations - online & virtual

  1. 1. Eileen A. O’Connor, Ph.D. [email_address] Empire State College/ State University of NY
  2. 2. <ul><li>Background of course; requirements for complex collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Research questions & course evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Course components & results that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Give evidence of process, quality and ownership </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Outcomes & evidence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Images from students’ pods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Images from students’ website/wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusions & ongoing improvements </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Online course within the Master of Arts in Teaching program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-service and in-service K12 science teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students already had one pedagogy course & educational foundations course </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But from various instructors with different tech & pedagogy expectations  therefore, one could not be certain of a common background </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eight week summer course; during the last four week, there was a complex, collaborative project </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>In determining what elements of design, interactions, expectations, virtual building, and virtual presenting were effective in supporting collaboration on the inquiry-based science-project development, this author/instructor gathered evidence from processes and products within the course, including: </li></ul><ul><li>project delineation , considering the course elements of structure, expectations, and evaluation required for the brainstorming, project submission, peer voting, project-selection and team-assignment process; </li></ul><ul><li>peer interactions, surveying the weekly project-and-topic meetings that were conducted by teams within Second Life and reported to the class in a discussion board and the weekly individually-submitted task lists; </li></ul><ul><li>final products and presentations, observing, videotaping (within the virtual space), analyzing, and grading the presentations and projects within the Second Life pod and within the required project wiki/website, using the assigned criteria and the grading rubric; </li></ul><ul><li>student debriefings, reviewing their comments on their own work, on the work of colleagues, and on ways to improve the course in the future </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>While examining the course design, interactions, and results, the researcher included these questions in guiding the analysis: </li></ul><ul><li>What components seemed most effective in helping teams succeed with collaboration and with inquiry-based project development, given the complexity of the assignment, the limited time available, the diversity of students’ backgrounds and of prior experiences with the instructor? </li></ul><ul><li>How did the use of virtual spaces and the requirements of incorporating web 2.0 technologies contribute towards collaboration and towards science-project effectiveness? </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>How do you generate ideas and engagement, at a distance? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you address different skill levels? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To allow for meaningful work within complex environments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>While not creating a “technology only” course? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thus a course design with: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content area choice and delineation by the students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teams created  students select their areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scaffolding & reporting </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. The poorest results came from the team that did not collaborate Topic & # of students Health (3) Biodiv. (2) Fish (2) Rain (3) Solar car (3) Ocean (2) River (2) Prior work w/ instructor 2 2 0 1 1 0 1 Student centered project Partial Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes Yes Collaboration effectiveness Good Good Poor Good Poor Good good Student satisfaction Good Good Varied Good Varied Good Good Instructor satisfaction OK Good OK Good Not OK Good Good Exceeded expectations Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Final report quality Good Good OK Good Not OK Good Good
  8. 10. <ul><li>Required weekly interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Task lists (check lists within a spreadsheet) were also submitted weekly </li></ul><ul><li>Report out (to the instructor alone) at course end on level of participation </li></ul><ul><li>Student submitted self-evaluation </li></ul>
  9. 11. <ul><li>Taking pride in the virtual workspace </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting frequently in space during the development – most teams </li></ul><ul><li>Adding more elements then required: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only basic images & a wiki required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students added animations, furnishings, and designs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(OK, not always the most aesthetic; but these are science, not art, students) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>See the next slides for examples </li></ul>
  10. 12. Added: plants Second Life pod expectations were minimal, but students added more than required – from individual exploration & sharing with peers Added: rotating spheres Added: circulating fish
  11. 13. Genuine sharing, community & caring was evident; students asked relevant questions & added extending ideas – all at a distance
  12. 19. <ul><li>Rich projects – better than previous courses (students comments show pride & valuing) </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine valuing and application of 21 st century technologies to the future K12 students; an expanded understanding of literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Peer teaching/learning – more skills evident then “taught” or even required </li></ul><ul><li>Responsibility and professionalism in the presentations – proud to share their findings </li></ul>
  13. 34. <ul><li>Maintain the overall course design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It now has now been field tested & evaluated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capitalize on and extend the value of the initial course development efforts, which was extensive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In courses such as these (which are NOT the students first pedagogy course), require that all students show some evidence of wiki/website skill </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the least, make specific pages within the project site that can be attributed to each student; an important skill today </li></ul></ul>
  14. 35. <ul><li>Course themes and approaches that appeared to influence the effectiveness of the results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sequencing & scaffolding – built understanding of requirements and staged </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brainstorming and modeling – provided a rich example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pacing, weekly reporting, and task lists -- kept all teams on task and accountable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requiring a project wiki/website, a science pod in Second Life, & presentations within the pod – developed pride and ownership; outcomes were “permanent” and shareable </li></ul></ul>
  15. 36. <ul><li>Effectiveness of using web 2.0 and virtual technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documenting and guiding the process as well as the content is quite possible online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Materials that have a face-to-the-public (the website) can engender more ownership and pride </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>These students could not have worked together any other way – they were geographically dispersed </li></ul></ul>