Collaboration has long been a part of the classroom, and many students do not enjoy the enforced group work. Assessment is never easy -- and it’s not always clear who did what. Available technology has the potential to make collaboration much easier and more effective, as well as more engaging for the student in any classroom.. Being able to track the edits made to a document also allows the teacher to see who is contributing. Allowing students to share what they have learned with a wider audience will also encourage more conversation about what they have learned.
Documents stored in the “cloud” are accessible from any computer (or smart phone, or tablet ) with an internet connection. (The cloud simply means that files are stored online rather than on an individual computer) .
Free Tools to use today
Here are just a few of the software tools that allow students to work collaboratively, or to share what they have created as a group or an individual. The list isn’t inclusive so, if you know of other ones, then please share them in the comments section.
Google Apps (according to Jane Hart this is number 3 on the list of Top Learning Tools for Learning in 2010) Multiple students can work on a single document, spreadsheet or slide show synchronously or asynchronously and then access the document from any computer/smartphone with an internet connection. This not only encourages students to work together - wherever they are - but also means that documents created can be accessed and shared, even at the museum, with a smart phone or iPad. Although not every student has a smart phone at the high school level, this will probably change as mobile technology takes on an increasingly important role in the upcoming years.
Students can als use Audacity; free, relatively easy to use and easily edited software to create an audio file that can be uploaded to an MP3 player to be listed to at the museum This type of file can be especially useful for ESL students
Before or after the trip, students can use Glogster to create a poster that reflects what they learned at the museum. Slideshare, rated at 6th in the top 100 by Jane Hart, is also a great way for students to share work that they have created with other students, community members and teachers - as well as the museum educational staff and ultimately, other museum visitors. This is also a great way to share photos taken on the field trip with a wider audience.
In an ideal situation, the museum education staff and teacher will work together to prepare the intial questions and presentations and the students will add their knowledge to the conversation using a variety of the tools available. Created materials could possibly then be used as part of a museum website, adding to the educational conversation.