Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chapter 4: Telecollaborative Projects

Digital Connections in the Classroom (Marcovitz, ISTE, 2012)

"The power of telecollaborative project is to transcend the natural barriers of being confined in space to learn in ways that we can't by sitting in our own classrooms." (p.54)

Some of our students know nothing more about life than what they experience in their small community - they don't get out of Maine sometimes. They can hear us tell them how things (weather, opinions, culture) are in other places of the country/work, but seeing it is different than hearing it. Luckily for us, we have the world at our fingertips. Telecollabortive projects, as the quote at the top states, allows us to "travel" outside of our classroom walls to have more authentic learning experiences. This can be an extremely powerful tool.

As I was reading about the types of projects (interpersonal, information, work and experiences, audience for writers, and strategies), I found myself thinking about how I could try to fit these into the fifth grade curriculum. Almost once a year someone in our school receives a letter as part of "the great mail race". It might be interesting to do this online, using email rather than snail-mail. There is a teacher in Brewer whose class Skypes with a 3rd grade class in every state. It's a great experience for these students in Brewer to talk to students their age in other parts of the country! I think of my students who sometimes have never been to the Bangor Mall because their family doesn't have a car! And when asked to name another state, they don't know the difference between Canada, Brewer, and New York. 

I also appreciated the "Pitfalls" section of this chapter. Often ideas are discussed and I'm cautiously eager to jump right into something. The pitfalls gave me some reassurance that these projects don't work all the time and they aren't appropriate for everyone. I'd like to try them out at some point, but right now I think I have enough on my plate. Perhaps down the road I'll get my feet wet and give it a try. 


  1. I like that Marcovitz didn't just explain the need for telecollaborative projects, he gave suggestions of how to get one started and resources that were available to you. These suggestions and his quote: "Many telecollaborative projects involve doing something you are already doing and then connecting to others to make it better" (Kindle location 1050 of 4336) make the idea of creating these opportunities for learners less daunting.

    My team is currently planning an integrated unit to kick off the year and this chapter gave me a lot to think about. Our unit focuses on connecting atmosphere and weather science concepts with culture and geography topics in social studies. I'm anxious to look into the Journey North Project, the Global Grocery List, and pen pals that are mentioned in this chapter. I think that adding these to our unit will add depth and diversity that our learners wouldn't experience else where.

    I agree with Ilyse that that "pitfalls" section was well needed. It is great to hear from other teachers and know whey they were unsuccessful and try to learn from their mistakes. I think that starting small is important and then building up from their is much more manageable with both time and technology.

  2. I am going to have a group in Mexico Telecollaborate (or Tele Operate) the robots that we have build here.

    1. Keith- Mexico, Maine or Mexico the country?? Either way it's very cool!

  3. Sorry my post is late. I just got home from Acadia last night and I was there since Wednesday.

    I found this chapter to have a lot of great resources and ideas. Like all of you, my mind was racing with ideas to communicate telecollaboratively with my students. There are so many different ideas and that will broaden our students' horizons. We can only take them so far by bus, but technology allows us to "take" them places they may never go in person.

    I enjoyed the story he told about his son who was nervous to publish his writing, even though he was never nervous to share it in class. Giving the student a broader audience was such a great experience.

    I like how this text gives many examples, resources, and suggestions. This chapter did it really well. Not only did it give resources to use to connect your students around the world, but it gave the pitfalls some have seen and suggestions on how to make this a successful experience.

    I am really trying to brainstorm ways this could fit into the curriculum because of time difficulties. I will definitely use the tips provided to help me get it up and running.