As part of our work during ETL523 we were required to put together a learning module to support the teaching of digital citizenship. As I reflect on the group work task that we often ask of our students, I have a deeper understanding of what we are asking of our students when we use the word group work. We are asking them to collaborate, communicate, problem solve and trust in each other. A large responsibility for adults let alone students.
As a team, we collaborated in many various aspects of our learning module. As I joined slightly late to what was an established group, they had already set up the use of Microsoft Teams, a tool I had not previously used. Not only does this tool allow you to communicate through a chat feature it allows inbuilt documents that you can work on simultaneously. Initially we set up Zoom meetings which allowed us to chat “face to face” however with time differences around the world the chat feature in Microsoft Teams was our main method of communication. As a group we decided on the use of Wix for our learning module and soon encountered the problem that it would not let more than one editor on the tool at once. We continued to discuss this and soon learnt that we could share and divide our time on the module to allow for successful collaboration.
Problem Solving throughout the learning module was also a key component. With Claire located in the UAE, Noni and Lena in Brisbane without DST and myself based in Sydney, time differences were the first issue we needed to solve. However with clear communication about available times the problem was soon not really a problem at all. Additionally aspects of the learning module that I was unsure of, such as adding pop up boxes with definitions, all of the group was always there to add a helping hand.
Throughout the process I gained an understanding into how different people work. While regular communication is essential, it proved difficult at times due to a range of factors. Having a sense of trust within the group is imperative which is made easier when everyone is pulling their weight. When compared to my current learning environment, it is easy to understand how our students would lack this trust with people they haven’t built a connection with or know well. This is the same for adults so why should we expect any different from our students?
When reflecting on how the skills associated with the task and how these can be implemented into the classroom I think norms around collaboration are key. As I teach stage two students, 8 – 10 year olds, merely stating that you need to collaborate does not have a large impact. Through unpacking key understandings around communication, roles and responsibilities and what group work looks like students will develop a greater understanding. This can be modelled through teacher talk but also teachers modelling with other teachers how collaboration happens in our daily lives.