|Title||Online Collaborations from Students to Students|
Ms Florika Kolbakova/Teacher at Põlva Co-Educational Gymnasium
The following article was written by 2 students of an ASEF ClassNet Online Collaboration, Ms Janeli Rammo and Ms Mariaana-Aleksandra Tereste.
“Your life should consist of more than commuting, working, eating, surfing the Internet, sleeping and watching TV. Your life should be filled with purpose-driven experiences and projects that bring excitement, passion, energy, and authentic meaning and joy into your life.” ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret
During the past a couple of years some students of our school have had opportunities to take part, as well as initiate ASEF ClassNet Online Collaborations. Before writing this article we asked ourselves what the advantages of the Online Collaborations initiated and led by students are, how do we benefit from the Online Collaborations and why a student should want to act as a Online Collaboration coordinator. Hereby we shall ask the same questions and try to answer them relying on our short experience.
Why are student-coordinators good for an Online Collaboration? First of all, even though not being fully aware of the curriculum, students usually know what topics their peers like. You probably all agree that it is usually much more motivating to work on a topic you enjoy even if it happens to be in class.
Janeli (a student-initiator of the Online Collaboration “Sports-It’s a Pleasure (2): “ I feel that sports is one of the most important things in my life, so I really enjoy working with that topic because I am passionate about it and I have had amazing opportunity to connect two things that I love: Sports and English.
Being students, the initiators can also set the work tempo and the level of difficulty more easily as they know how quickly or slowly THEY would complete the task and what THEY would find too easy or too difficult.
Mariaana (a student-initiator of the Online Collaboration “Music in Our Life”): Being a student, I know that after school many students have extra-curricular activities that take up a lot of their time, so I had to take it also into consideration. When we made the tasks we tested them ourselves to see if they were too difficult or easy.
Is there anything that a student benefits from when working on an Online Collaboration as a leader? If you ask me, as a teacher, I would say that they can put their language skills into use, learn about different ICT-tools and internet platforms as well as programmes. In addition, they learn to structure and plan their work, making it more purposeful, and manage their time; they use their initiative and creativity, and last but not the least, they learn to take responsibility. Besides all this, they enjoy the whole experience because they are actively involved in communication with their peers from other countries. This is their Online Collaboration, they have to do it and in the process they learn to love it.
Janeli: When I started my Online Collaboration “Sports- It’s a pleasure”, I had a certain idea of what it should look like. However, I did not know where to start. It was difficult but it was worth it. Beginning is often complicated. I learned so much. I could not learn those things in class – making a homepage and communicating with different people. I started loving it and when it ended we all felt sad, so we decided to go on with it.
Mariaana: In the beginning I only had a rough idea of how the Online Collaboration should be like, but as we worked on it bit by bit, a whole picture formed. Therefore, even if you have a small idea, with hard work and determination, you can turn it something spectacular.
On the other hand, besides all the advantages mentioned above, leading an Online Collaboration, especially an international Online Collaboration, is also hard work. A leader must take into account cultural differences, holidays in participating countries, time zones, and in some cases also passivity of fellow students. They have to be able to motivate others, communicate day and night, find time to prepare tasks on the level suitable for all the participants, etc. However, this is all worth it!
Janeli: It is hard to lead the Online Collaboration but as I mentioned before it is worthwhile. We had many problems but always solved them. However, my only negative experiences are connected with the inactivity of the fellow participants. Luckily their teachers were kind and helpful and reminded them of their Online Collaboration duties. So I would like to thank Mrs Eleni Kostopoulou and Mrs Orla Skelly, whose contribution into my Online Collaboration was significant.
Mariaana: The hardest part was dealing with inactive students, because some only signed up and did not do anything. Luckily, the number of inactive people was low and there were many who were eager to do the tasks. Especially the students of St. Mark´s Girls Senior Secondary School and St. Mark’s Senior Secondary Public School, so I would like to thank Ms Anjali Handa.
If any of you feels motivated by the article and is planning to ask your students initiate an Online Collaboration, then here are some tips that they would perhaps like to follow:
– choose a topic that interests you and that you know quite much about
– surround yourself with people who you can rely on
– compile tasks that you can also do and like yourself
– try to paint a „big picture“ in your mind before you launch the Online Collaboration
– be enthusiastic and open.
Janeli & Mariaana: I would recommend Online Collaboration making to every student who likes organising and communicating with people in different cultures. Every student who has enthusiasm and who is even at least a little bit interested, should try making a Online Collaboration, because you will not regret it. Do not hesitate and try it on, it is totally worth it!
Our experience has been interesting and we have discovered that launching and working on Online Collaborations has been a marvellous way to step out of the frames and bring learning out of the classroom.
Let’s do it together!