Collaborative Learning Projects
What is a Collaborative Learning Project?
A collaborative learning project is a problem-based task that requires at least two people to research, resolve, and document. The team collaborates by using Microsoft or Open Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint and other cloud-based programs such as Crocdocs, Movenote, SlideSpeech, Plotagon, Screencast-o-matic video creations and so on.
Collaborative projects are a wonderful way of developing team spirit, critical thinking, and creativity that goes beyond the member’s individual work. Teamwork develops as members get to know one another, learn how to solve problems, and reach decisions.
Micro Teaching in a Live Online Class
Collaborative projects that use technology in the classroom involve ongoing learning for both teacher and student. One such project is pair teaching in a micro teaching initiative on WizIQ. Teaching in pairs requires collaboration and teamwork. The micro teaching in pairs takes place every year from the beginning of November to the end of December.
Teaching In Pairs
You can join teachers from around the globe as they teach in pairs every Sunday and Wednesday at 12 PM EST from November – December 31, 2014 using this link (for all the classes and recordings): http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/2264050-teachers-micro-teaching-in-a-live-online-class
WebQuests are collaborative projects that facilitate the process by providing easy-to-follow steps that require very little computer knowledge. They are an ideal way of combining meaningful learning tasks, teamwork, and the use of technology. Teachers can prepare a WebQuests collaboratively or use the ones available online. Just google a topic and add the word WebQuest as a keyword in your search.
WebQuests for Collaboration and Student-Engaged Learning Assessments
Bernie Dodge defines a WebQuest as “inquiry-oriented, based on a doable, engaging task [that] uses pre-defined resources from the Web” (Dodge, 1998).
What is involved in a WebQuest?
A WebQuest consists of 6 major parts: introduction, task, process, resources, evaluation, and conclusion.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Here are some features of student work on WebQuests:
- Students generally work in teams.
- Each student has a role, or a specific area to research.
- Students are often involved in role-playing real-life situations of professional researchers or historical figures.
- A very important aspect of student learning: Students tackle problems that encourage higher-order critical thinking. By breaking the tasks into meaningful subtasks and solving or resolving problems, students experience learning as a process of discovery.
There are many WebQuests on the Internet but not all of them are quality WebQuests. As a matter of fact, many WebQuest are not real WebQuests at all. They need to have certain features to qualify. WebQuests must be able to prompt “aha” experiences that lie at the heart of authentic learning. A real WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses the Internet for the resources and provides authentic tasks to motivate students’ exploration of an open-ended question, development of individual expertise, and participation in a team that transforms information so that it makes sense and can be applied to new situations.
WebQuests are not just activities which utilize the Internet. They are more than that. Students must experience both individual and team learning, and produce an authentic end product that is creative and applicable to real life. WebQuests must be real, rich, and relevant . Through student teamwork, cooperation and collaboration, students learn to access information and use the acquired information and expertise in a new way. This leads students to use their higher thinking skills for a deeper understanding and more independent learning. As a result they become responsible for their own learning.
What makes a Quality WebQuest
- Organization and scaffolding
In order to achieve these educational goals, a quality WebQuest must be well organized and scaffolded so that it provides students with clear guidelines on what to do. In addition, it must have thought-provoking questions in the task that clearly lead to independent and critical higher order thinking.
- Fostering teamwork and collaboration
In order to foster teamwork and collaboration-necessary elements of a WebQuest–making decisions is an important aspect. A quality WebQuest should clearly state in the process how the team members’ tasks will be divided. Each team member has a role for which he is responsible. Team collaboration helps students learn how to share information and ideas and be accountable for their own learning, and for the team’s effort.
- Evaluation rubric
A quality WebQuest must have an evaluation rubric for each stage, not only for the end product. Some elements of the evaluation might include whether students present their work in a creative and interesting manner, and whether they use multimedia and other visual aids.
- Student feedback and reflection
Finally, a good WebQuest should have a feedback questionnaire or a reflection page for students to add their feelings and comments not only at the end but throughout the project. I would add a working file journal to the WebQuest so that information could be documented. Feelings and ideas should be recorded at all times. This would add to the students’ learning experience.Before introducing a WebQuest to students, teachers should evaluate it to see whether it is organized and easy to follow. The hyperlinks should all work and be appropriate for the tasks. I have created two literature based WebQuests, one that deals with health, and one that I collaborated on with four other teachers (Deutsch, 2004). Check them out and see if they follow the criteria of a good WebQuest.
Sustaining Student Engagement
A WebQuest provides students with a social, collaborative, supportive learning environment. The WebQuest will work under certain conditions. Teachers need to step back and encourage students to control their own learning so that students can be the leaders of their own learning.
- Deutsch, N. (2004). WebQuests. Retrieved from http://www.nelliemuller.com/WebQuestsbyNellieDeutsch.htm
- Dodge, B. (1998, June 22-24). WebQuests: A strategy for scaffolding higher level learning. Retrieved from http://edweb.sdsu.edu/webquest/necc98.htm