I am on day three of my first ever MoodlMeet through LearnNowBC and I'm having a fantastic time! Phil Macoun from Aspengrove School on Vancouver Island asked me to help facilitate this course on authentic global collaboration after meeting at the World Future Conference in Vancouver last summer. Not really understanding what a MoodlMeet was I immediately accepted and I am learning so much. Participants from all over the globe are consuming, connecting and creating. The pace is frenetic with constant questions, discussions, and additions to not only Moodle forums but wikis, Google Docs and Diigo. I think I'll still be hearing the ding of a new email alert long after they have stopped!
This experience is in stark contrast to another global collaboration project I have been working on recently with another group of international teachers. As a participant in the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in November , I was fortunate to be able to take part in a professional development session dubbed “Learning Excursions.” Myself and the other four educators in my team from Egypt, Canada, Mauritius, and the Philippines were taken to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and given a behind the scenes tour. As a follow up we were charged with task of developing a learning activity that we could take back to our classrooms. The chosen theme was water, aligned to the 2012 Shout online conference series.
Despite differences in language, culture and experience my team had one thing in common. Inspired by Will Richardson, we knew we wanted to create something of meaning and consequence. The notion of our students being heroes was appealing and it wasn’t long before the H20 Heroes wiki was created. We decided our project would be a call to action online game. Working collaboratively, students complete learning missions. Inspired by the mission of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the missions require students to acquire knowledge about nature and culture through research. They then exhibit or demonstrate their learning to inspire others to support a sustainable future.
My team continued to communicate over the next few months developing missions that would be appropriate and applicable to students from all over the world but progress was slow. Emails responses took a lot longer than my impatient self would have liked. Every day I would eagerly check my emails in the hope that one of my team members had responded, and I was often disappointed .My students were the designated test pilots but I soon became to rely on them more as partners in the design and creation process making suggestions for improvement, identifying potential problems and contributing their own unique and wonderful ideas from the student perspective. Despite slow progress I believe that our collaboration resulted in a great project that both my students and team are excited to share.
Being involved in both of these wonderful projects has reminded me that the learners in my classroom have diverse needs. While some like to travel along their learning journey at break neck speeds, others like to meander and enjoy the view along the way. I need to be constantly aware that my own learning style is not overpowering the way I teach and ensure that I try to facilitate learning in a way that appeals to all the students in my room.
I'm sure that I will have more to share about my MoodleMeet experience after it has finished and I have had some time to process but for now, I would urge all teachers to consider participating in the Microsoft 2012 US Forum, which launches on Jan 23rd on www.facebook.com/partnersinlearning and on microsoft.com. I would also recommend that they join one of the MoodleMeet sessions offered by LearnNowBC, and finally, I would like to invite them and their students to join the H2O Heroes wiki and be prepared to consume, connect and create.