I have been working with Helen from Woodford Schools, Plymouth, UK for a number of years. Back in 2007 we started to collaborate between our schools in New Zealand and England. We used tools such as Skype, Dim Dim, Skrbl to collaborate and I spent many late evenings remote teaching her students in the UK from my desk via web cam here in New Zealand. The students were not at all phased at being taught in this manner, it was the adults in the room in the UK observing this who had the hardest time! The collaboration only worked because the two of us at either end of the asynchronous communication plan had energy, vision and drive to see it through. We had never met, but decided to write and present a paper on our collaboration. We presented at the VIASL IFIP3.5 conference at the Charles University, Prague in June 2008. You can read about that here. We wanted to prove that remote teaching and asynchronous collaboration between students could work in a meaningful manner. I have always been and remain fascinated by the potential of remote learning to reach out to students in remote locations to enable a rich, bespoke and meaningful curriculum for them. I am currently working on a side project to facilitate such opportunities for students, I am currently dubbing it a school of passions.
I am now about to embark on another round of remote collaboration with students. Again I am working with Helen and this time Megan from Wakaaranga School in Auckland. Our aim this time is to see if students can collaborate, negotiate, design and construct a game in Gamemaker. They have already been organised into teams of four, two students from the UK and two from NZ. This team of four will be designing and collaborating asynchronously. A wiki has been created for them as a staging post for them to share their work. It is from here that the students will collaborate. The students will work on their Gamemaker program once they have agreed the objectives and plans for the game, locally on their computers, then usin tools such as Jing or Cam Studio they will take screen shots of the work they have done and submit those to the wiki. They will then communicate with each other using Talkwheel to monitor what the other groups are struggling with, to share ideas and successes. However, rather than typing their messages the students will be recording their messages using Audioboo so that they will in effect be leaving ansaphone messages for all to listen to via a hyperlink. The project is all prepped and is about to commence.
I have to say a big thank you to Patrick at Talkwheel who has been very supportive in setting up student accounts for us and providing me with some training and also to Kate at Audioboo who has offered her help towards this project too.