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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Small-Group Collaboration

Photo:  A group of children with their teacher around a single laptopI have just come across a very useful article on teaching and learning with a particular emphasis on collaboration from eSchoolNEWS. The article is well worth reading with the proviso that one can think in terms of on-line learning instead of the scenario depicted of US schools still living in the 20th Century.

Almost every single point could be translated into 21st Century Virtual Learning using a good e-Portfolio system such as eFolio. The Author, Ellie Ashford writes:
"Everyone needs to be able to collaborate in a group, because that's how things are done in the real world. No one sits alone and works by themselves any more," said Stan Silverman, director of technology-based learning systems at the New York Institute of Technology.

Some educators believe students gain a deeper understanding when they participate in group projects.

Lance Sutton, a teacher at Westview Elementary School in Goose Creek, S.C., said: "When a teacher lectures to them, they forget; when you have kids help design something, they will remember for a lifetime."

Sutton said collaboration is "a more positive way of teaching" and addresses the needs of students who learn best in different ways, such as those who are visual learners or auditory learners. He uses an interactive whiteboard and Interwrite Workspace software from eInstruction to facilitate small-group instruction with his fifth-graders."

As much as I agree with the teaching and learning style eloquently put in this extensive article, surely it is time to encourage, even at this young age, that students work on computers attached to a VLE or at least the Internet. This way all the exciting discussions, and activities, the artefacts produced etc are recorded for the teacher to assess or for the pupils to collaborate even more effectively, to reflect upon, access from home or present to an audience.

Everything Ellie Ashford says is true, but how much more effective can collaboration be through the use of e-Portfolios!

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