I’ve recently run into the concept of knowledge care. (downloadable pdf here) Having to do with learning communities, this concept teaches us that academic understanding, knowledge and output should only be half of the “product” we are interested in when we are working with students.
This article gave examples of corporations that are involved in global collaborations. It stressed that the innovation or product are only half of what is important that comes of these collaborations. The other half is the knowledge about taking part in work like this. A time of reflection, of bringing together knowledge gained about working in these ways.
Sounds like a great idea, so Heather Durnin and I, in our thinwalled classroom have taken up this challenge. Heather and I currently have our students collaborating on a final project to do with the novel The Book Thief. We’ve read the novel over skype and supported our students with a daily chatroom and a sticky wall for questions and reflections each day. Now that the novel is completed, the students are working on a field guide to the town of Molching, the place where the majority of the novel takes place. The students have come up with a list of people, places and events from the book. They have self organized themselves into groups, and using google docs, are beginning to write this field guide.
So far we only have had a few classes together working on this, but Heather asked her students to reflect on the process of learning online together. What they have come up with so far is quite interesting:
– People work at different speeds. Slow down and be patient. Not all of us are alike and we all work at different speeds.
– Not all people are comfortable participating right away. Ask them some literal questions to get them involved – something they will no the answer to.
– If someone is deleting your work, ask them to stop, ask them for their opinion.
– Assign a recorder
– If someone is going off track, don’t follow. In fact, don’t be scared to tell them to get back on track.
– It’s important to socialize and get to know your partner.
We’ll be adding to this document as time goes by. It is shared between the two classes and is something we are going to spend time reflecting on with our classes.
These reflections have nothing to do with the academic outcomes the students were asked to focus on. Yet, these are the skills, the scaffolding that make these types of collaboration possible. Powerful learning on the part of the students.