When we were first assigned the Collaborative Research Project, we knew we wanted to connect both of our teaching major emphases: Gineal and Aric's Social Studies major, and my English major. Of course, Dr. Z being Dr. Z, he threw down the gauntlet and challenged us to complete this project without speaking to each other in person. For Aric and I, this challenge seemed very difficult initially, because we both love to talk, and we're pretty boisterous. So, we knew we had to choose a collaborative technology that would allow us to communicate quickly and clearly, so we could effectively plan and carry out our project. How were we going to agree on a topic that related to both Social Studies and English skills, all without TALKING???!
The final agreement fell on an idea that the three of us concocted together. Teenagers like to stay out and have fun, but often there are city, town, or community curfews requiring those under a certain age to be home and inside by a certain time of night. We wanted to pose the question: are you for or against an age-based curfew for your neighborhood? Students would then have to argue for their side, in a debate video. They would receive feedback from us instructors, and their peers, through a YouTube comment thread. All of this encouraged collaboration as well.
During our Skype sessions, Gineal, Aric and I would meet on Skype, conference calling, and we would also have a GoogleDoc open. We shared this GoogleDoc so that we could record all of the ideas that we discussed in our Skype call. If you haven't ever used GoogleDocs before, they are THE GREATEST THINGS EVER! Seriously, I think this semester has made me fall in absolute love with GoogleDocs. I feel like I'm being extremely unfaithful to Microsoft Word. Don't tell Bill...
I learned that collaboration is immensely important, and can be very easy to accomplish. My group and I created a clever project using simple methods of communication. Through this project, I became more familiar with GoogleDocs, Skype, and got to know my group members better. For a list of suggestions when considering collaborative tools to use, visit Six Revisions. I hope my readers get out there and explore the great big world of online collaboration! You might just find a new tool, with a use that really surprises you!