How can teachers best collaborate asynchronously using technology?

 

For my current course (Teaching, Learning, and Assessment II) in my Digital Education Leadership Program at Seattle Pacific University, we are looking at the ISTE Standards for Educators. These standards are fairly new, having been “refreshed” in 2017.  For this first module in this course, we are looking at Standard 4 – Collaborator: Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.  For my work I have chosen to look more closely at the first indicator for this standards: Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology (ISTE, 2017).  

Teacher Collaboration

 

I wanted to focus on collaboration among teachers because I see how valuable and effective collaboration can be and the positive effects it can have on teachers, students, and entire school community.  Teaching can be an isolating profession, even when you are constantly in a room with 20+ students most of the day and collaboration is a way for teachers to feel connected and supported. All teachers bring such different skill sets, interests, experiences, and knowledge, and when we find a way to share and utilize all the amazing things that are happening in classrooms down the hall, everyone benefits.  While in-person synchronous collaboration certainly has been the preferred (and often only) mode of collaboration in the past, time and physical constraints make finding time to collaborate difficult and sometimes exclude teachers whose schedules don’t work for the collaboration times or teachers who didn’t have similar subject colleagues at the same location. One way to alleviate these issues is by utilizing technology tools so that teachers can collaborate asynchronously at any time or location that works for their schedule. There are technology tools out there that will allow for asynchronous teacher collaboration to be  as, if not more, valuable as traditional synchronous in-person collaboration.

 

Asynchronous Collaboration Benefits

 

Asynchronous, technology-driven teacher collaboration can have many benefits:

  1. Collaborative products/resources are easy to access and available by all members of the group at any time

      2. Collaborative work can be created/edited/shared by multiple authors

       3. More equitable opportunities for participation by all members

 

Different Tech Tool Options to be Used for Collaboration

 

When researching this topic, I came upon a “top picks” list on Common Sense Education for “Student Collaboration Tools”.  I use Common Sense resources quite a bit in my professionally and have found their “top picks” lists very useful.  Although this list is geared more towards student collaboration, I felt that student collaboration (especially in high school) is not that much different than teacher collaboration; a group of people working together to create or plan something that is hopefully a better product that it would be if done individually.  Another goal is a more time-efficient product, especially for teachers who are often stretched thin on time. In this video from Vancouver Public Schools, it is mentioned that “learning together” and collaboration are key pieces of developing a professional learning ecosystem.

My district uses the Google Apps for Education and I have found this a very good platform for asynchronous teacher collaboration. However, I was curious as to what else was out there.  Besides the Google tools (Hangouts and Drive), I have not used the tools listed below but I hope to in the near future as I dive deeper into asynchronous teacher collaboration.

All of the tools I have listed below are included on Common Sense Education’s “Top Picks” Best Student Collaboration Tools.

 

  1. Google Hangouts- “Google Hangouts is a Google-based service that allows you to communicate through text or video with anyone in your network. Hangouts can also be recorded and archived if you ever want to revisit a conversation or lesson.”
  2. Google Drive- “Originally called Google Docs, Google Drive is a combo online-productivity software suite and cloud-based, file-synchronizing service. Basically, it does everything and lets you put everything somewhere.”
  3. Chalk-Up– “Chalkup is a learning management system (LMS) focused on two things: (1) providing seamless transition from school to home to bus/car rides to extra-curricular events and (2) fostering discussion and collaboration.” This seems very similar to Google Classroom and was recently acquired by Microsoft.
  4. Mural– “MURAL is a website where kids can save text, video, and images to a virtual corkboard to share or catalog them for future use. It functions as a social bookmarking aid and brainstorming tool by making idea sharing and presentation a simple, visual process. Text elements function like notes and can be moved and revised by one or more users.”

 

*descriptions of above listed tech tools from Common Sense Media

 

Sources:

 

Chalkup (Retrieved on 2018, April 6)from: https://www.chalkup.co/

 

Commonsense.org. Top Picks for Student Collaboration Tools (Retrieved on 2018, April 6) from:  https://www.commonsense.org/education/

 

Iste.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Educators. (Retrieved on 2018, April 6) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

 

Mural (Retrieved on 2018, April 6) from: https://mural.co/

 

Office of Educational Technology. Future Ready: Establishing a Professional Learning Ecosystem. (2016, April 05). Retrieved from:  https://youtu.be/TMbeqn7NlyI

 

3 thoughts on “How can teachers best collaborate asynchronously using technology?

  1. Susan, Thanks for sharing Common Sense resources. I will enjoy consulting them in the future. You should tweet some of your top picks from them! I am glad to learn from you more about Chalkup and the Microsoft suite of resources to complement my knowledge of Google’s educational resources. I guess the next step will be to see what Linux (nonprofit, open access) offers!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. I can certainly relate to this part in particular, “teaching can be an isolating profession, even when you are constantly in a room with 20+ students most of the day and collaboration is a way for teachers to feel connected and supported” I used to work for a nursing program at a community college and I was the only one teaching nutrition in that program. I felt quite isolated and would have loved to have had someone else to bounce ideas with, troubleshoot, or even simply sharing experiences. I wish there were someone I could have collaborated with asynchronously during that time. I appreciate your curated list with summaries and am wondering if there are any that you are personally considering for your collaboration needs? Are there criteria items that would help you choose one over the other?

  3. Susan,
    Another great post! I really appreciated the list of collaboration tools for students. This is something I want to start with doing with my students. I will have to try them out. If you try any let me know how they work. I am really interested in Mural, sounds perfect for primary aged students. Keep up the great work.

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