The rapid switch to online learning in March 2020 plunged us into the world of virtual instruction. Months have passed since the Covid-19 Pandemic first disrupted regular classroom routines and activities. Now, depending on local and regional regulations, schools have either returned to face-to-face instruction, or adopted a hybrid, remote, or online learning model.
Regardless of the instructional delivery system you are using, digital and collaborative experiences are powerful tools for learning. Students can of course collaborate with their own classmates, but you can extend learning beyond your virtual space and connect with other classrooms in your school, or in another state or country. In relation to this, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standard for Global Collaborator challenges students to “use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.”
Whether physically isolated or physically present in the classroom, you can facilitate opportunities for your students to work asynchronously on projects with students in other classrooms. Start with a small project, ideally around a topic your students are interested in. Find a teacher to work with (for example, search Adventist Teacher Connect). Together, decide on the project and determine the learning goals. Coordinate the project details and set up the digital workspace for students to work in.
Here are some free collaboration tools and ideas:
- Flipgrid: Create a grid and add your prompt in the topic. Students can post video responses and reply to each other’s videos. You can use Flipgrid for introductions; students post video introductions and ask each other questions. Use it for Social Studies to learn about geographic areas. Share a grid with another class. Set up one “topic” for your city or state and another “topic” for the other class for their state. Each class posts information about their area to create a virtual field trip and the other class responds and asks questions.
- Padlet: You get three Padlets free, but you can reuse them. Think of Padlet as a virtual wall or interactive board. Students can add graphics, videos, audio and text. Create prompts for students to discuss topics, share ideas, gather resources, work on project steps, and reflect on learning. You can divide students into teams and create a Padlet for each team.
- Google Slides: Create a workspace for student groups. Students collaborate on a shared project and can access it from anywhere, on any device. You can also assign each student a specific slide in a file for each to contribute individually to a project. Student groups can create infographics, video reports, pdf e-books, narrated e-books, interactive presentations and posters.
- Screencastify: Install this Google extension that allows students to record videos, audio files or videos plus shared screen together. The free version for educators allows for one active project at a time. Collect the videos in your Google Drive folder by sending students a link. Students can view each other’s videos or embed them in other projects. Use this for demonstrations, experiments or presentations.
- Canva: The free plan for educators allows for unlimited design projects. Students can create cards, presentations, posters and video presentations. It is compatible with Dropbox, Google Classroom, Canvas and other platforms.
Whether you are teaching face-to-face, hybrid, remote or online, collaborative asynchronous projects create unique opportunities for students to actively learn content and develop collaboration and interpersonal skills.