Teacher Collaboration: What It Can Create

This past school year, my mother retired after 25 years teaching in a K-8 school in New Hampshire. At her retirement party I found myself surrounded by her friends, most of them teachers who I’ve known for years. Several use Wikispaces, and one explained that a 2007 YouTube video called “Wikis in Plain English” was her first introduction into what a wiki could be used for. This four-minute video shows how a group of four friends prepare for a camping trip by collaborating on a wiki page. By listing the items they already have, and creating a list of what they still need to bring, they are able to decide who will bring what.

The same teacher recalled: “When I watched that short video in 2007, it quickly made sense what a wiki was useful for: quick and easy collaboration!” She then recounted how she used Wikispaces to create an exercise for her students, and how (again, in 2007) she was advised by her school’s administration to cease using wikis altogether. As she put it, wikis at that time were considered “a low-class teaching tool.” Over the past decade wikis have become powerful and commonplace tools, especially inside the classroom, so we all had a good laugh at that.

But her story brought up a good point: what does the future hold for wikis and teachers? Even more than currently takes place, the near future will see teachers collaborating with teachers to become better teachers.

The dictionary defines collaboration as: the action of working with someone to produce or create something. By definition, collaboration creates something. On the near horizon, there are at least three parts that will come together:


Classroom

When teachers collaborate on these platforms, what exactly is created? If you watched the 4-minute “Wikis in Plain English” video, you saw a very basic collaboration take place between four friends, and it was easy to see what was created: the camping group discussed the needs of the trip and created a list of needed items, then decided who would bring what. The discussions and lists eventually informed them: ‘we have everything we need; we’ll have a great trip.’

Similarly, teachers can collaborate to become informed about what content is the most relevant and effective. The syllabus provides teachers with a structure that helps them plan and execute their creative vision of education. Teachers from all over the world will share relevant content, rate the quality of content, and integrate new ideas into their classrooms. This collaboration, and the content being discussed, will help them build a story within the structure of their syllabus.

The specific value that is created lies in the quality of content and the number of choices provided to the teacher to ‘create their story’ with. That is the real creation of teachers collaborating. What we’re seeing now and will see more of in the future is teachers collaborating, in a way, with the content itself. Teachers will only continue to have even better resources and methods to teach those resources.

In the next post, we’ll look at teaching content that exists as a living document, continually edited and updated, and why this can be so valuable to students.

What is your school currently doing to facilitate teacher collaboration? Teachers, how have you collaborated with other teachers in the past? Please share your insights below.

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12 Comments

  1. Julia Hernandez
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of cumunicating through a website, but it take technology training for some teachers that are still struggling with technology.
    I’m not sure how my school coolaborates, I’m new and I will not meet my team until monday. I’m use to good team coolaboration and I hope to continue the pattern in my new school.

  2. Zana
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    This is for sure a great website for teachers to communicate, collaborate, to explore resources, to learn and to advance. I was at the College Board Annual Conference 2014 in Philadelphia for three days. The presenters from different schools shared their experiences using different types of technology and websites. it would be great to hear about Wikis too.

  3. Denise Sooknanan-mar
    Posted August 20, 2014 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    I think that the wiki is a great tool for group work. We are planning to create lesson plans on it. In the past I did not use the technology very much because I did not know how. However I hope to put my new knowledge into practice.

  4. Gregory Hilderbrand
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The school where my expertise is demonstrated have teachers come together at least once a week during the school year to discuss “what is working, not working, what can be improved, as what is going on , like situations that might require more attention.
    My collaboration occurs at the school with the “meetings” as describe above. Outside of the school, collaboration takes place through “workshops” geared toward professional development. This might happen maybe once or twice a school year. Although it’s been a few years, future plans include attending the “conventions” whey are offered.”

  5. Gregory Hilderbrand
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    The comment section will allow “modern day collaboration”. Teachers can access the WIKI and ask a question or provide a comment, not just nationally, but global. Teaching does not have to feel as if you are on an island. The Wiki allows for the kind of collaboration upon peers that teachers probably have never experienced before.

  6. Mishelle Goodwin
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I love wikispaces It’s fun an educational to use a computer there is so much you can learn and do. you can E-Mail friends, look up information, and keep up on jobs. I want to keep using wikispaces even at home, school, or play. I would really like to keep up on things and use and store information as well.

  7. wendy
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much Michelle! Keep in touch with how you use Wikispaces!

  8. wendy
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Gregory, we agree! Email us at help@wikispaces.com if you’d be interested in sharing more about your experiences, we’d love to highlight you :)

  9. wendy
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Awesome Denise!! Keep it up!

  10. Posted September 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I have been trying to interest people in collaborating to build a common resource for learners and teachers, but it’s like trying to herd cats! Please take a look at the following wikis and respond if you think you could help make this happen.

    http://wikidia.wikispaces.com/home

    http://wikids.wikispaces.com/Index+1

  11. Posted September 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Barry. Your wikis look like good starts. There’s definitely no magic to building a community around something like that. It just takes commitment and work. Good luck.

  12. Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Adam. I have purchased a private label plan and I’m readying it for others to use.

    http://www.wikidia.wikispaces.net/Introduction_to_Wikidia

    I shall make an announcement announce when it is ready.

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