Putting Global Collaboration into Practice

For the Course 2 final project, I worked with fellow COETAIL Cohort 9 participants Rory Bell and Gene Marie Chagaris.  Each of us brought a somewhat different perspective to the project, having different roles in our home schools, not to mention living in very different places – Switzerland (me), Taiwan (Gene Marie), and Japan (Rory).  We chose to focus our efforts in designing and creating a professional development workshop for faculty.  Our workshop aims to be four hours in length, and the target audience can be teachers of any grade levels.  However, it is designed to work best if there are faculty present who teach a variety of grade levels.  

I would like to state from the very beginning here that it was a real pleasure to work with both Rory and Gene Marie.  We worked synchronously when our schedules allowed us to, but the asynchronous work was easy to manage.  Both Gene Marie and Rory brought great ideas to the table, and once we got going, the project seemed to complete itself.

The Process

Generally, what surprised me about the process of global collaboration for this project was how easy it was to organize, despite the fact that both Gene Marie and Rory were 7 and 8 time zones ahead of me, respectively.  To help us facilitate conversation, and organize our thoughts, we utilized asynchronous tools such as email, Google Docs, and Twitter to send messages and comments.  We were also able to use Skype several times to work synchronously on our project as well.

(Photo used under Creative Commons License from https://pixabay.com/en/board-school-learn-global-world-2450096/)

We began our planning process by setting up a Google Doc to jot down our ideas.  At this stage, nothing was concrete, and we were simply noting what major themes we would want to cover, and (as some of us are aiming for Google Trainer certification as well) what Google Apps we would explicitly use and reference.  

From this initial brainstorming phase, we settled on the idea of creating a professional development experience for colleagues that would focus on these four main learning objectives:

  • To gain an understanding of how important Digital Literacy is.
  • To learn how to use copyright effectively.
  • To create at least one Digital Citizenship lesson for your grade level.
  • To know what the ISTE Standards are and how they can be applied to learning environments.

We did want to specifically incorporate G Suite tools, so our workshop deliberately asks participants to use Google Docs and Slides during the sessions.  Our plan begins with a survey that we made in Google Forms, which will be sent to participants prior to the workshop date.  This survey asks participants to rate their familiarity in using some of the Google apps.  The plan would be for us to follow up with anyone who would like more help with these tools before the date of the workshop.

Our initial brainstorming document:

As our ideas began to take shape, we started to plan more concretely in a second Google Doc, which highlighted different phases of our professional development workshop.  From this, we worked mostly asynchronously, however, we did have a final conversation via Skype to finalize our ideas and clarify a few remaining questions that we had.    

The product

The final product of our collaborative efforts was this Digital Literacy Workshop plan.  We used “Poll Everywhere” as an initial icebreaker for mixed-grade-level faculty groups. Gene Marie also chose this video as an inspiring way to kick off the workshop.

Our Outline:

Our Slides for the Presentation:

As referenced earlier, we deliberately wanted to incorporate the utilization of G Suite tools into our workshop.  In the workshop, participants will work with the following three Google Docs, and one resource created with Google Drawings.  (Google Document 1, Google Document 2, Google Document 3, Google Drawing)

Reflections

Working on this project with Rory and Gene Marie was a very rewarding professional experience.  As stated earlier in this post, it was a real joy to work with the both of them, and their contributions and ideas caused me to examine and clarify my own thinking as well.  I learned quite a bit from the collaborative element of this project, and don’t feel that I could have produced a workshop as good as this one if I had been working alone.  

In globally collaborative projects like these, I believe that flexibility is a key attribute for participants to have in order to ensure that the project is a success.  Indeed, flexibility is a good attribute for any team members to possess, but it especially important when working collaboratively as part of a global team.  Dealing with time-zones, schedules, and prior calendar commitments across thousands of kilometers add an extra layer of complexity to the process.  

Overall, I feel that this was a valuable experience.  It reminded me that global collaboration is not nearly as difficult or complicated as it seems at first.  Sometimes, when thinking about such possible collaborations or global project ideas, it can seem like a daunting task.  But what I quickly realized again on this project was that step by step, one message/comment at a time, things quickly coalesce into a plan, which then translates into a finished product. Looking at the projects of other COETAIL cohort 9 members, I see that other teams found the same to be true, and have been impressed by what they produced.  Utilizing digital communications technology, a committed team can produce great work, even if separated by thousands of kilometers.  

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