TL;DR version: What are the attitudes and aptitudes used by "experts" as we collaborate while "making" content online? How can this understanding of these knowledge, skills, and dispositions be used to inform pedagogy when we have students write, "make", or collaboratively construct online content? To be involved in this work, please click here.
This week in the Mozilla #teachtheweb MOOC we started really collaborating, co-constructing, and “making” online content with others. As I continued to work collaboratively with others I was struck by some of the questions, opportunities, and challenges that I noticed while working on my dissertation.
In my dissertation I had students collaborate in building hoax websites using iWeb and other digital texts & tools in a 7th grade classroom. One of the questions that has been stuck in my head since wrapping up this work centers on the opportunities and challenges that occur as students work in a group to construct digital, multimodal content. In my years teaching English Language Arts, I frequently had student collaboratively write a paper. I’m trying to figure out is there something different in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students use as they construct multimodal content…as opposed to traditional writing. I want to know this so I can better scaffold and assist learners as they set out to work collaboratively and co-construct online content.
In my dissertation working collaboratively was beneficial as students were able to support each other, and their expand their own learning. There are numerous tools and strategies needed, and a multitude of work that needs to be conducted to build a website. Student groups that were able to understand the specific strengths of their peers, and tailor the workload to utilize these strengths benefitted the most. There were many others ways that students and student-groups benefitted by working together in this study. There were also many ways in which students were challenged individually and collaboratively while working with each other. One specific example involves a group of four females that were friends and usually worked with each other on group projects. They commented in interviews that they are all “good” students, and are very creative. They each had their own vision of how the final work product should look. By having them co-construct knowledge and information, they needed to (in some cases) abandon some of their own vision for the good of the group.
Once again, as I’ve moved on from my dissertation I’ve been thinking deeply about the work process, and effects on the ultimate work product that are involved as we collaboratively construct, or “make” content. In this third week of the Mozilla #teachtheweb MOOC we have a collection of “experts” globally that are playing, “making”, and co-constructing information. I’m interested in the attitudes and aptitudes they use while collaborating. That that end I developed a survey to submit to the learning community. In the spirit of the community, and to remain as “open” in my thinking and research as possible I developed the survey using several features. First, the survey is built in Google Forms and can be edited by anyone that wants to change something. The link to go straight to the form and edit is available here. Second, the results of the survey are available on the webpage that I developed for the survey, and the results spreadsheet. Finally, this blog post, and subsequent blog posts will be shared via this website using all results. All names and identifiable data will be removed from reporting. Thanks again for your interest and support in this work.