Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Seven 'Cs' for Surviving a Flat Classroom Project

We are two weeks away from the official launch of the Flat Classroom Project for 2007. This year we have 7 classrooms and over 100 students! Already many students are on the Ning (currently private, soon to be made public) and finding their way around the pre-project material.

Today I shared some ideas via my class blog and via the Ning. This is what I call the Seven 'Cs' for Surviving the Flat Classroom Project, but essentially they are seven key modes of operating that will make online survival in many situations easier and more rewarding. I keep reminding my intrepid students they will only get out of a global project what they put into it, however there are some basic requirements for being in an online learning community and a digital citizen.

1. Connect

Your mission is to connect with your team members and the other educators involved in this project. Connections will take place asynchronously as well as synchronously. Some of your partners will be on the exact opposite side of the world so real-time connections will be a challenge. However you must make the effort to connect. That first contact and then follow-up messages are so important for reassuring your partners that you are there are willing to work.

2. Communicate

Once connected, now use your online skills for effective communication with your team members. Don't be afraid to say you do not understand something. Ask for their opinion and their advice. Discuss problems and reach solutions together. Being in different time zones brings its own challenges for communication and understanding. Communicate often and communicate clearly and responsibly. Use the Ning, use the wiki page and use other methods that you and your team can agree on, including email and MSN.

3. Cooperate

Consensus and conciliation can be reached through online cooperation. This takes the first two 'Cs' to be in place (connecting and communicating) and once you are doing these you can cooperate on building a knowledge base on the wiki share resources and ideas. Do not be offended or take it personally if by mistake your work is deleted temporarily off the wiki, this happens sometimes and we are all learning how to work in a wiki-centric environment. Work together on improving your space and cooperate by being active online and on the wiki.

4. Contribute

If you do not contribute to the online spaces provided for this project we cannot tell what you have done. This is not a project where you can hand in the finished essay on the due date. This project means you must be communicating, cooperating and contributing on a daily basis. Contribute to the Ning by sharing your audio and video files about you and your home/country and sending messages to other students. Contribute to the wiki by posting comments to the discussion forum and adding content to the wiki page for your topic. Contribute to your team by recording short video clips for your partners to use in their videos. Do not be a non-contributor and lurk somewhere in the darkness. Come out and be part of the construction.

5. Collaborate

You and your team members must collaborate on the wiki to show a combined effort in developing a knowledgeable page with lots of relevant hyperlinks and references for your topic. To collaborate means to work together to solve a problem and that is what you must do. This takes communication and cooperation. You cannot sit back and rely on others to do all of the thinking for you. You need to be in there as well collaborating with your team, sharing ideas and making suggestions.

6. Create

This project requires you to create a wiki page as a team. It also requires you to create an individual short video based on your topic and sub-topic. This is difficult, it is challenging and there is no easy answer for content. You decide, you use your creativity and design and plan your final video. Make sure you include clips from your team members as well to show a global perspective on your topic.

7. Celebrate

When the hard work is done you can celebrate your achievements. Part of this celebration is providing reflection and review to your partners and reflecting yourself on the many parts of this project. You will find that the success of this project will be in the underlying achievements, not always the academic ones. You will have found new friends around the world through your online interactions. You will also have made a difference to the world by synthesizing what you have learned into a multimedia event that can be shared globally. That really is worth celebrating!

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Anonymous said...

I am intrigued by the 7 Cs. They seem so basic but very much essential for any group to work. I am currently having issues with group work. Are these steps cyclical? Or can I instead skip one of these steps and be ok? I feel like I have been doing my best to connect and communicate but because of our distance and sporadic schedule I find it difficult to even set up a basic meet up time.

Shavon Coleman

Julie Lindsay said...

Hi Shavon, thanks for stopping by my blog. I understand your frustrations with online work. Good question re are the steps cyclical! Don't forget that connectivity usually means asynchronous rather than synchronous when we are joining people and/or classes from around the world.
Yes, I think the steps follow each other, except that 'Celebrate' can come in more often perhaps. Celebrate the connectivity and communication; celebrate the contribution and collaboration going on; give rewards and incentives each step of the way.
I would like to hear more about what you are doing online!