Blog Archives

Collaboration Fluency: Foreign Connection (possibility!)

Collaboration fluency is team working proficiency that has reached the unconscious ability to work cooperatively with virtual and real partners in an online environment to create original digital products. Virtual interaction through social networking sites and online gaming domains has become a part of the Digital Generation’s and our daily lives…so why not include it in our daily routines at school as well!

While social networking is not necessarily explored in Kindergarten, I am excited about an opportunity this year! I have a student who will be moving to China in March. She will return for 1st grade next year, but will spend nearly 6 months in Beijing with her grandparents to be fully immersed in the language.

This will become a wonderful opportunity for my class to continue our relationship with this child, but to start a connection with a class on the other side of the world!

How can this build collaboration fluency? I have lots of ideas! The basics of Kindergarten include numbers, letters, shapes, etc. I think the kids would love to teach one another some “basics”. At this point in Kindergarten we are working on building complete sentences and even writing our own stories. I think it would be awesome for my students to create stories (for example on the PuppetPals App) and send them to the class in China. The class in China could then retell the story in Chinese and send us the new version. I need to explore ways we could exchange these videos to make it a smooth process for Kindergartners to manage. I know the possibilities could be endless with this, but I love the idea of storytelling to collaborate with the Chinese class. Knowing that one of the students there will be one of our friends will allow my students to jump right in to it rather than be nervous. My students will be very interested to learn about what her new class and teacher will be like, so it would be wonderful to compare and contrast the classroom environments she will be in. We could also exchange photos or videos of our classrooms.

The 21st Century Fluency Project website suggests that with our wireless communication technology, it literally puts a “death to distance”. the ideas I shared above holds especially true to this. Even the tremendous time change between Oklahoma and China won’t get in the way of sharing and exchanging ideas! In fact, I believe it would be a smooth process that the kids would be eager to explore. I will be eager to post about the progress as it develops!

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Hamlet’s Blackberry (Part One)

In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers argues that we need a new digital philosophy that finds balance between connecting outward and inward. His goal in this book is to explore “a practically useful way of thinking about technology, so it serves the full range of human needs, inside and out”(100). Powers finds the answers of how to face the challenges tech presents by looking to the past. He explores examples of past technologies and people’s reactions to them to shed light on how concerns we should be considering as we learn to negotiate an ever changing digital world.

In the days of Plato & Socrates, the new technology was the written language which started replacing oral communication. Socrates feared that writing would cause people to use their memories less and would eliminate the back and forth communication that speaking offered.

He misjudged writing because he judged it through the lens of the old tools (speaking), an error we still make today.

Writing actually provided a lot of benefits, allowing us to bridge the distances between people (oral communication could only happen in close proximity—at least in Plato’s day); and writing allows us to reflect and ruminate later at our own pace and repeat ideas until we understand them.

But as is often the case, the improvements made by a technology can also cause other problems. By the time Seneca arrives on the scene, writing had grown to the point of the great library of Alexandria and the new challenge was how to handle the increased libraries and mailing. People were awash with info, but not necessarily knowledge.

In an age saturated with info, we have to pare down and decide what is most important or necessary. The paradox of information is that the more there is available, the harder it is to be truly knowledgeable.

In 15th centuryEurope, Gutenberg’s printing press caused another radical technological shift, changing reading methods from a public, shared activity to a private one, and increasing the type and quantity of information available to the masses. By Shakespeare’s day, the printing press had made the proliferation of reading materials overwhelming. Powers points out: “Over and over in history, new technologies arrive that play to our natural maximalist tendencies. At the same time, quietly but persistently, there’s a need to find balance.” (154-55). This balance was found by using another “new” tool, a reusable “tablet” that allowed a person to jot down notes and then erase them later. This offered a way for people to pare down.  Much like in Seneca’s day, people felt the need to find a way to slow down and sift through what was really important.

What tools will we provide our students with that will help them sift through the plethora of information and help them deal with the feeling of being overwhelmed?

Stay tuned for the next installment featuring Franklin, Thoreau, & McLuhan.