Creating a Collaborative Student Experience

Teachers often ask me how many devices they are going to get. “Not all of my kids have a device. I need to increase the number of laptops in my room so that they each have their own.” While this sentiment is valid for student individual use, it doesn’t speak to the need for us to teach collaboration.

The model of 1 device for every 3 students lends itself to students working in a more collaborative manner. We already know that they can work alone and under direction. At least most of them can. What we need to cultivate is the team creative effort. This is what is needed most in the real world. Finding the ability to plan and work together is a much missing commodity in the workplace.

By Lucélia Ribeiro (Children at school) via Wikimedia Commons

Business owners often say, “I can teach skills. I can train someone to use our software system. What I can’t teach is teamwork and personal responsibility. They should know that before they get here.”

We encourage, even demand, that teachers work together in PLTs (personal learning networks) so that there is a common, shared vision. We should be obligated to foster the same in our students. Individual growth, of course, is important. But individual growth will develop within a collaborative team. And collective thinking is more powerful that one person doing it alone.

How can a teacher help? Develop team contracts. Have job assignments when working on a project. For example, one student is the director, one is the scribe, and one is the submitter. These are just a few ideas. Students may even come up with titles for themselves that you never thought of. Give them the power to make the safe decisions in a team environment. This encourages growth and helps establish a work ethic and responsibility.

And only provide one device per team. 

Does this mean we should never use 1:1 in the classroom? Of course not! But, using the collaborative approach, the technology dollars will go further and we develop skills that are necessary. A real win-win situation!


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