Tips for Online Collaboration
Here are three teachers' practical suggestions and tips to help you and your students as they connect to their peers in projects across the globe.
Working Internationally? With the World at Your Fingertips, Review this Top Ten List!
MANNERS 1. When doing a project, it is not just business as usual, manners are a big part of the way things are done. Don't just plow ahead with the work. Take time to get to know the people in the project you are working on. Read a little about the culture. Be polite. Test your politeness IQ.
LANGUAGE 2. In many other countries, people take the time to learn a language, and therefore can converse in one of several languages. Learn a language or, become familiar with phrases you may want to know. It is a courtesy to the other participants. http://www.epals.com gives a translation, but so far only in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese. There are other translation sites all over the web. But this one is for children.
WHERE IS THIS PLACE? 3. Go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com and look at the interactive map of the country you are working with. Learn the absolute and relative location, something of resources of the region, the landmarks and icons, and the movement of ideas across the region. (A little in-depth of the history and culture will help a lot)
CULTURAL MAP 4. If you are working with one country or in exchange, take time to learn a little about the culture. Even though it is just an online project, if you understand the country a little more, differences will not be such a daunting problem. Cultural differences will prove to be quite interesting.
HIGH TECH TO LOW TECH 5.There are many levels of technology in international places all over the world. Usually a project has a certain level of technology that is required, but be aware of the rules for the project. Some people pay for the time they are online. Keep with the rules. Don't do extra email unless it is called for.
POLITICS 6. It is a good idea to read the newspapers of the country you are working with if it is one country. You get windows of information, information about holidays, and special events, and unusual news and tragedy. There are lots of sites that give this information. You might also peruse the Embassy website for information.
TIME 7. Choose a world time site or set of sites. (for example, http://www.kidlink.org/KIDPROJ/test/dualclock.html) There may be other resources, such as a different interactive maps, times, tides, and holidays.
REGION 8.What is the region like if you are working with a country? How does this affect the country/ What are the resources of the region? The industry? Who are the people who live here? What is the historical culture? Indigenous resources? Natural features? What would be on their disaster map?
RELIGION 9. Religion is a part of the culture of a country. What are the prevailing religions or religion, and what are the ways in which this might be reflected in your project?
CULTURE 10. There is pop culture and there is culture. We have media culture and fast food culture and some icons of our country that are a part of world culture based on the media. As we are a young country, there are elements of culture and history of other countries that may not be so important to us. But in other countries, as you work or travel, you will find that culture with a capital "C" is really important. It is more than Mickey Mouse, McDonalds, and Mattell. Be aware that there may be a lot of misrepresentation of countries from a cultural perspective in the US. We may also have only a small knowledge of the history as well. The cultural map may be the most important of all.
Source: Bonnie Bracey, World Summit for Children, E-mail: email@example.com, http://www.iearnlb.org/bridge/f2f/onlcoltips.htm
Tips on International Online Collaboration
Do not assume that other students will know if you are male or female by your first name. If you want them to know that you are male or female, tell them.
Almost all other countries use the metric system for measurement. A temperature of 30 degrees may seem cold to you but it be warm to your partners. (30 degrees Celsius is 86 degrees Fahrenheit.) Convert your measurements to metric in your communication. Most often the other student will have to translate the rest of your communication into their first language. Science Made Simple has a metric converter that is easy to use. http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/conversions.html
If you use slang expressions be sure to explain what they mean.
Remember how tedious it is to look up words in a dictionary. Use simple English words. Consider how phrases are translated literally. Can you imagine what someone would think if you wrote you had dirty blond hair?
Explain abbreviations when you use them.
Remember that most of the world uses a 24 hour clock. Three in the afternoon would be written 15:00. (You add 12 to number for the P.M. hours)
Most other countries will write dates with the day, month, year or even year, day, month rather than our system of writing month, day, year. Write out the name of the month to avoid confusion.
Remember the reader cannot see your face in your communication. Humor may often be interpreted literally and misunderstood. Use emoticons (smiley faces and other symbols) and punctuation such as asterisks to make emphasis. Be certain to state your emotions, do not assume they are known.
Most of the world learns British English language rather than US English. Words such as centre or colour may look misspelled but are correct for them.
Source: Diane Midness, iEARN-USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why International Collaboration in Schools?
As the Internet provides connectivity among nations, it generates opportunities for connectivity within K-12 educational realms. As we come to realize the full potential of using the global reaches of the Internet within our school classrooms, we come to realize that we are able to build local to global, multicultural understandings of human experiences across and integrated among all content areas including literacy, social studies, science, math, languages, economics, history, politics, agriculture, vocational, arts, and service learning curricula.
It is important that their global collaborations be embedded in a overarching philosophy of international education. In local to global collaborations using the Internet, the philosophy of international education is to provide action learning in real world contexts and experiences where students are given both opportunity, encouragement, mentoring to:
embrace, experience, understand and honor the commonalties of histories, experiences, and perspectives that they discover among global peers as affirmation that their are others like them;
embrace, experience, understand and honor the diversities of histories, experiences, and perspectives as opportunities to understand the world in new ways and to understand that these diversities bring positive strengths and insights to our human experiences;
understand, experience and honor that multiple versions of ideas, content, experiences and perspectives do exist and can be mutually accepted and sustained side by side ...by not automatically assuming that differences will negate one another because only one way can be right or only one idea can work;
understand and experience that their local action learnings about community, culture, geography, resources, lives, and hopes of work and play, of struggle, conflict and achievement have connection to the issues, conversations, and struggles, realities, hopes and dynamics of nations;
understand and experience through local to global action learning that the process of knowing about the world, both historically and in the present, is a generative process with ongoing revision of knowledge with new, previously unavailable or unknown information and insight;
- understand that the goal of local to global action learning curricular projects is the enhancement of collaborative understandings not competitive challenges for in collaborative lateral respect of one another is found the greatest opportunity to honor inclusion of all positive efforts, rather than negating one another with the exclusion that can from competition to declare winners and losers.
Source: Kristi Rennebohm Franz, adapted from her article "Towards a Critical Social Consciousness in Children: Multicultural Peace Education in A First Grade Classroom". The Ohio State University College of Education Journal Theory Into Practice. Vol 35, Number 4, 1996.