Monday, October 20, 2008

The Power of Collaboration

Last year the Time4 Online conference here in New Zealand explored collaborative online learning as one of the themes. I had the opportunity to contribute a workshop called "KPE - An example of collaborative online learning". One of the points I made during this was that although student collaboration plays a significant part during the KPE podcasting process, most of the collaboration occurs offline. Particularly when compared with the experiences we read about Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis' students having in their Flat Earth projects, or with the ways our students participate in the Rock Our World projects. During 2007 one of the collaborative opportunities the Pt England School podcasters had was to work with a group of students from Stanley Bay School in Devonport, Auckland. Their teacher, Stephen Grady, brought a group across to visit so they could learn from the PES students how to create a podcast and the learning experience was wonderful on both sides.
Recently the kids from Pt England have had the opportunity to pay a return visit as the kids from Stanley Bay have become New Zealand authors by publishing their own book of short stories - and KPE is about podcasting NZ authors. So I had the fun last week of taking four students to see how the other half lives - or at least goes to school- and record a podcast with them about their book.
It was quite an experience for the students from a Decile 1a school to travel across the harbour bridge to this Decile 10 school and spend the morning there. The school was a warm and inviting place and the friendliness and hospitality of the students was outstanding. They quickly made the four Pasifika visitors feel quite at home and after showing them around the school they all went out to play with the rest of the school. After morning tea, recording the podcast was easily accomplished and promises have been made to collaborate further in the future.
The discussions in the car on the way home were most interesting as the kids had all kinds of positive observations to make about their experience. With the constant and imperative focus on literacy in our school and cluster it was interesting that one of the stand-outs for them was recognizing how extremely articulate the SBS youngsters are. "Their sentences are full of big words", "They have a wide vocabulary" and "They talk like dictionaries" emerged from the discussion.
But the one that really had me chuckling (and recognising the different worlds we inhabit) was this.... "They even talk like that in the playground"
Long live collaboration!