Category Archives: Collaboration

Designing a PBL. A reflection after week one

Holidays are always a fabulous opportunity to have space to think, reflect and plan. During the break I was able to plan and create a Project Based Learning task for my Year 11 Studio Arts students. We have two classes studying Studio Arts with two teachers, myself being one of them. I guess I started with considering what the driving question would be and what the end would look like. Some critical questions came to mind,

  • How would both classes collaborate around the DQ?
  • What technology would enable authentic collaboration?
  • What milestones need to be completed?
  • How will students go?
  • What learning will occur?
  • What are we assessing?

Coming up with the DQ was relatively simple, we wanted our students to have an authentic experience in developing, curating and designing an exhibition. From this the DQ came out.

How do we collaboratively design and create an exhibition?

I needed to map out the process and consider what students would go through. I came up with this, PBL project flow (1)which was more for me then for them. I wanted to have a little bit of clarity around what the process looks like. I love the fact that a PBL is so organic and totally driven by students. Truly making these tasks student driven learning. I decided to use GAFE for connecting each of the classes learning. I wanted to use something that is intuitive and works on any device and has collaboration at its centre. I created a folder which houses all of the student required documents. Task outline, rubrics, ideas documents, project team documents. Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 5.23.21 pm I stabled across Buck Institute for Education after doing a little online research about PBL. Little bit about BIE

our highest priority is to help teachers prepare students for successful lives. We do this by showing teachers how to use Project Based Learning in all grade levels and subject areas. As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, BIE creates, gathers, and shares high-quality PBL instructional practices and products and provides highly effective services to teachers, schools, and districts. http://bie.org/

BIE has a wealth of resources and example documents that you can modify to suit your PBL. It is well worth taking a look. This really helped me frame our PBL and make sure the it is hitting the required learning intentions.

This is part of the task sheet that students use to frame their thinking.

Find the full sheet here: PBL task sheet

Your task is to work in groups and across both classes in planning, designing and creating our Yr 11 Art show. The Year 11 Art show will open on the 3 of August at 5:00 pm in the Menzies Gallery Cripps Centre. The show will display work from students studying Art, Studio Arts and Visual Communication Design. The show will be a celebration of the works of Yr 11 students studying Visual Arts and assessed by an authentic audience. The show must capture the attention of your audience and focus on the following:

  • Artistic rigour: Exhibition should be of high artistic excellence and integrity;
  • Relevance: Exhibition should demonstrate the exploration of issues
  • Coherence: Exhibitions must display cohesion through themes, subjects or techniques and materials
  • Audience development: Exhibition should meet audience targets by meaningfully engaging with established audiences and creatively attracting new audiences;
  • Best-practice: Exhibition should be in-line with industry standards, particularly with regard to the standard of display and interpretation

Student Objectives

    You will collaborate your thinking and be involved in:

    • Be involved in aspects of curatorial work – writing catalogues, wall text, artist profiles
    • Be involved in exhibition design in collaboration with our Art technician
    • Design all marketing and promotion material
    • Select and install students works from Art, Studio Arts and VCD
    • Design lighting and space requirement
    • Design the look, feel and opening night of the exhibition
    • Develop team roles around critical jobs involved in the exhibition
    • Use effective collaboration techniques between both classes in developing ideas for the show.

    Reflection after week one

    Our first lesson centred around working through the ideas behind a PBL and then we moved into deconstructing the task sheet and looking through the rubric for assessment. I have used the rubrics on BIE for the assessment of the PBL and modified them to suit my context. We discussed collectively what the learning would look like to achieve above standard in each of the criterions. After this I let the students go. I have always found the most difficult thing as an educator is to let go of ‘control’. I want students to be the co-constructors of learning, driving and challenging their learning. I want to shift the ownership of learning to them from me. Letting go of the control is hard, scaring and even challenging, but when you do, your students will never disappoint. I was astonished of how quickly they were all engaging with the task, with each other and taking control of their learning in the first lesson.

    GAFE was a great choice, it is enhancing both classes ability to communicate and collaborate their learning. We started out with seperate class documents, but the students decided this wasn’t working and have now merged their learning into one document. Effectively making choices of how best they can all collaborate.  Over the next few lessons I witnessed true collaboration and self directed learning. Students began making choices of how best to support each other and what roles they would like to focus on. When you hand over learning to students and scaffold the learning intentions students will ultimately take control and be self motivated to discover the gaps in their learning and plug the holes. The engagement has been superb due to the authenticity of the task. Students are learning be doing and deeply engaging with the specific roles involved in exhibition design, curatorial work and installation of art works as well as 21st century competencies of collaboration, communication and critical thinking. What I am realising is the power of a PBL to connect 21st skills to deep learning.

    As the week moved on students collaboration deepened around the roles involved in the exhibition and they have started learning from each other about these roles. A testament to the tasks collaborative nature was seeing the students organise a meeting totally initiated by them in their own time to discuss and plan their ideas for the DQ. If that’s not immersion in a task I don’t know what is, giving up their own time to work on an assessment! Part of my thinking was to incorporate a flipped lesson about the Question Formation Technique.  Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 5.01.28 pmI wanted students to be able to develop their knowledge about asking good questions in seeking answers that will move their learning. This is the only part of the task that I have ‘made’ them complete. A student reflection from the QFT task

    Reflection:

    I didn’t quite understand this task at the beginning but as I started thinking of what the class really needs to know and the things both classes have been tossing up, I started understand the kinds of questions we should ask. Reading over my questions and thinking of the advantages and disadvantages of each, revealed to me how some questions that can seem important, can actually be useless. Completing this task allowed me to realize what questions are the most important and will ensure we receive the most valuable information required for our exhibition. In hindsight, I know now that some questions I have written are less important than others and should be rethought and re-written to ask how and why we should do certain things and therefore receive more valuable answers to help with the creation of the exhibition.

    Some of the questions they have came up with

    • How can we efficiently present an exhibition that isn’t completely tradition and has quirky, new elements that could attract a larger crowd?
    • What is the most effective marketing technique in order to get people to come to see the exhibition?
    • How much time is reasonable to allow to plan for a large scale exhibition. What focal points must be prioritised?
    • What idiosyncrasies are vital to each role an exhibition?
    • Creativity is evidently a crucial aspect of a successful exhibition. How do you recommend balancing innovation and impotent feelings?
    • Are there any common problems we should be aware of as we begin to put together an exhibition if so, what are they?  

    The QFT starts with giving students a question focus, I left this open for students to decide around the Driving Question. The rules for a QFT are

    • Ask as many question as you can
    • Do not stop to judge, discuss, edit or answer any of the questions
    • Write down every question just as it was asked
    • Change any statements into questions
    1. The first part of the process is making the questions. This should take around 4 minutes, don’t worry about the quality, just generate as many as you can around the topic. You have to make sure you list and number each of your questions.
    2. The next step is identifying which questions are closed and open. You need to highlight each closed or open question by making it with a ‘c’ or ‘o’. Once they have been identified you need to write the advantages and disadvantages of the question. The last stage of this step is to change closed questions to open ones and open ones to closed ones. This should take 5 minutes or so.
    3. Then you move into the priority stage and set some parameters around your choices. You need to select your priority questions and give a rationale for choosing them. You choose the three most important questions by marking them with an ‘x’, give a reason for the choice and note what number your priority question was on your list. 3 minutes max for this stage.
    4. The next part is making the questions actionable. Thinking about how you will use the questions to guide your thinking and learning around the question focus. This should take 2 minutes.
    5. The last step in the process is to write a reflection about the QFT process. What did I learn? How can I use it?

    The below example is the full process of the QFT.

    What is the most important aspect of an exhibition? Eg. The people there, the atmosphere etc. (C)A – create a focus the whole team can use in order to achieve a great exhibition.

    D – May leave us to neglect other important aspects of an exhibition and therefore we may not achieve the best we can.

    Rewritten: Which aspects should we be focusing on the most and why? (O)

    X – This question will help us achieve the best exhibition we can as it details the most important elements while also explaining how it will help us to develop a great concept.

    More information about the QFT process can be found here. http://rightquestion.org/education/

    Now we have our roles defined, ideas are continuing about the show and our questions are ready to be put into action. We will be twitting our questions to a Melbourne Gallery Director a photographic artist who is currently setting up an exhibition and will have a Q & A session with a gallery installer. This next week is going to be loads of fun. You can follow the #CGSPBL tag to follow our progress. Next week will see us move into the planning phase of the PBL, I can’t wait to see what the students come up with!

    Trying to dig deep with a flipped classroom

    I have been a ‘fanboy’ of the flipped classroom for sometime, having built up confidence in totally flipping my subjects and seeing the many benefits a flipped environment brings. One of the main areas that I have been really happy with is how the flipped classroom allows the class to dig a little deeper into active learning. It’s a big misconception that the flipped classroom is about making videos and placing them online, sure that’s one part of it. It’s an important part of the puzzle as its forces you to focus on the explicit content you would like students to know. Making a 5 – 8 minute lesson isn’t easy, but it certainly makes you consider what your learning objectives are . The real power of the flipped classroom is what happens the next day in class. Lets face it who wouldn’t want more time for students to dig deeper into their learning via projects, self and peer assessment and timely feedback. The flipped classroom opens up these opportunities. My main goal is to go deeper and have students participate in a richer active learning experience where I become more of a coach to guide their learning. The classes become much more collaborative in nature where students are solving complex problems with an emphasis on higher order and critical thinking skills.

    As Prensky highlights that the technology today’s learners have grown up with has ‘induced today’s students to think and process information fundamentally different from their predecessors’ (Prensky 2001, p.1). We know our students access, process and create information in very different ways and are moving away from more classical approaches to teaching and learning in order to engage students and move beyond retention. It is a mistake to focus solely on the technology as its the active lesson which really makes this a powerful pedagogical approach to learning.

    If we look at this in the context of a ‘traditional’ classroom most of the focus is on the remembering and understanding stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy, processing information and content. Students then move to the more difficult thinking processes at home by themselves.

    blooms_new

    Bloom’s Taxonomy ©

    No expert support, no feedback, no collaboration. Why? With todays technology there is not much point for students to be spoon feed information in class. Class time is for active learning not passively soaking up content. I know I want my students to be pushing the boundaries of their thinking into the higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Essentially in the flipped classroom the opposite happens, the remembering and understanding is at home and the difficult learning of application, analysing, evaluating and creating happens in class. Flipping is more than videos is about class time and what can be achieved. This time is spent, supporting students through the difficult tasks of learning and thinking, making the lessons more engaging, collaborative and about feedback. It allows students to be the drivers of their learning, they can self regulate their journey. For us we can listen for learning and personally engage with each student or groups of students. This is where I see the power of this learning. Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.47.17 amLets flip Bloom for the 21st century, it now looks like this. With this new model of Blooms Taxonomy the passive learning is where students can watch lessons at home about content – remembering and understanding.  The active and deeper learning is in class.

    Where to start

    It’s important to start a flipped journey well and sensibly. I didn’t completely flip my class at the beginning. I made a few lessons, learnt from the experience and moved to more lessons. I arrived at the point where everything is now flipped and I am adaptable enough to make new lessons when questions are raised in class. Before I moved to a flipped classroom I spoke to my students about ‘why’. Why are we moving to this, what are the benefits, how will you learn. We did some training around note taking, expectations and how to participate with lessons. I also taught my students how to watch videos and take notes during the lessons. This made a significant difference in a seamless setup. It’s always important to give students a voice and be part of the learning decision.

    The setup

    There are many platforms and apps out there that can be used to flip your class. I have used many and found that a combination of an iBook, LMS – Schoology, educreations and YouTube a great combination. The iBook provides the framework for students to access all project assessments and the required content lessons. The setup provides a sequential order for students to work through at their own pace. It also provides feedback regarding assessment rubrics and how to access the required ‘post up’ activities during the lessons. I have found this to be the most efficient way to deliver the required outcomes to my students. All students have access to a MacBook Pro or an iPad which makes this a really a seamless integration of platforms.

    Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.45.03 pm

    An example of the sequential lessons in an iBook, all hyper linked to specific learning requirements. 

    This is complemented by our LMS – Schoology. Schoology has excellent features that can place restrictions over the access of content, making it self paced. Of course some students don’t watch the lessons, this is less about the method of the flipped classroom and more about normal behavioural issues regarding ‘homework’. What works is that you can setup student completion requirements around the content meaning students can only move onto to certain lessons once they have completed the requirements . This has been great in supporting those students that don’t watch the lessons at home. They realise pretty fast that they must engage with the lessons at home in order to fully participate with the classroom activities. They also can’t move on to the next lesson unless they contribute and participate. Schoology also has excellent analytics capabilities.  I can capture data on when lessons have been accessed and by whom.

    student_completion_schoology

    An example of the student requirements setup in schoology

    Activities during the lesson are also important, as it provides me with feedback on what our next lesson looks like. Simple ‘hinge’ type questions that can provide a quick snap shot are great,  informing me what we do next and what targeting learning I can give to individual students. Check out my post on hinge questions here. Hinge Questions.

    The importance of creating a student centred approach within the Flipped Classroom approach is paramount (Flipped Learning network 2014, p.1). Gorman (cited in Hamdan et al. 2013) states that

    ‘any learner centred educator would provide activities in the classroom that are action based, authentic, connected and collaborative, innovative, high level, engaging, experience based, project based, inquiry based and self actualising’

    (Hamdan et al. 2013, p.12). Roehl et al. (2013, p.48) suggests that the Flipped Classroom approach incorporates a combination of these ‘in class’ activities described by Gorman along with an innovative use of technology, all which leads to ‘higher order thinking skills among students’

    Flipping your class takes time, but I would argue that this is the new way learning should happen. Embedded technology, active learning and engaged students.

    A video I created for our staff day about flipped learning

    References
    Prensky, M 2001, ‘Digital natives, digital immigrants’, On the Horizon, vol. 9, no.5, p. 1-6.

    Hamdan, N, McKnight, P, McKnight, K, Arfstrom, K.M 2013, A Review of Flipped Learning, Flipped Learning Network, retrieved May 15 2015, <http://www.flippedlearning.org/ cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/41/LitReview_FlippedLearning.pdf>

    Friday Standups

    Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.07.28 am

    I wanted to create greater student accountability around their learning and also give students the opportunity to present their learning and discuss where they are going.  I got the idea from collaborating with a UX designer in London with my class. With her team every Friday they meet and discuss what they are working on, seek feedback and discuss where they are going. Out of this the #FridayStandups was born. Each Friday students have a few minutes to present their learning around these questions.

    Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.07.38 amIt has kept them accountable and gives them the opportunity to share their learning and receive feedback if needed. We have been using flipgrid to curate their responses also. It has been valuable for students to have a target each week and be able to share what they are doing. It values their learning and their peers are participating in active and passive ways. It has been great in modelling different ways to tackle their learning problem. Many divergent thinking opportunities and new ideas have come out of these short presentations. It is framed with the idea of making students owners of learning and providing opportunities for them to reflect and make learning more visible.

    Hinge Questions, Exit passes and Digital Portfolios with FlipGrid

    I have been using flipgrid with my students which is a fabulous question curation application. Check it out at flipgrid.com. It allows you to publish video or text questions and curates the responses in a visual grid for your class or even the world to see. It is really simple and beautifully intuitive to use. It is complemented with an iPad and iPhone app. The design is clean, simple and looks gorgeous, important parts of an app. I am glad they have considered UX and UI in their thinking and design.

    IMG_2240

    Entry and Exit pass Flipgrid

    I have started off using it as an exit or entry pass requirement for my classes. Before the students leave or enter the class they must post a response to a question grid. This has been a really effective way for me to see how my students are tracking and consider what happens next in class, did they get it? If so lets move on. Its also been great for keeping their learning sticky and being able to collaborate with their peers.

    Hinge Question Flipgrid

    Another really useful application of flipgrid has been using it for Hinge Questions. A hinge question is a question that you ask the entire class at a critical point in the learning of a concept. It informs you that the students ‘get it’ and you can move on. It’s not a traditional question of hands up and only one or two students respond. No hands up and everyone is in. This is where flipgrid has been fantastic, not only is everyone in, they stay in and I can go over the responses really quickly and move on to the next concept.

    Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.20.39 amWatch this link as Wiliam explains a Hinge Question. https://vimeo.com/104059936

    Digital Portfolio of responses. 

    As flipgrid curates responses, I was thinking that certain questions or milestone responses could be curated over the year to represent a mini portfolio of student’s learning. The portfolio would allow students to keep a record of their learning and provide triggers for the students to reflect and direct new learnings. The questions could be based on peer and self assessment strategies. This would be a great way to keep digital artefacts of the students progress and affirm the improvements over the course of their learning journey.


    Below is a short clip of how I have been using flipgrid


    I am the master and you are the apprentice – Renaissance Painting Guild

    I have been really been fascinated with the idea of developing classrooms that utilise collaboration. It is very obvious that technology empowers this idea and makes it seamless, however, I still see the great power of this in a more traditional sense. An example of this was a project a colleague and I developed for our Yr 7 Visual Art students. It was based on the Renaissance, below is an abstract of the project.


    By @deanpearman & @clareBCollins

    After a discussion about the pending Renaissance unit, we pummeled, cobbled and thwacked out our tired previous assignment to reshape it into a more authentic task. We wanted students to have a deeper understanding of the contexts and structures surrounding and influencing Italian Renaissance Art. We determined to deliver students with a “real” sense of what it would be like to work in an artist’s studio at this time and used the Florentine Painters guild to provide historical and cultural references. In constructing the way we would assess the task we looked to analogues from the time. Who did the painters have to please? It was clear – their patrons. So we took the role of the Pope and Lorezo Medici, for our ‘master’ painters and their workshop apprentices.

    The task needed to be fundamentally grounded in authentic and explicit learning. We came up with the following knowledge outcomes:

    • Historical and Cultural Understanding of the Renaissance: concept of rebirth of knowledge from Antiquity

    • Development of painting techniques and processes employed by Renaissance artists through an introduction to mathematical perspective, grid-based underpainting and chiaroscuro (tone, light and shade)

    • Use of contemporary technologies with historical ideas: where the students created a photographic tableaux of significant Renaissance paintings for translation into compositional formats relevant to Renaissance idealism.

    • Collaborative & Authentic Learning: through role-playing in Artist workshops

    • Communication and Presentation skills of their work in the formal setting of the Rod Menzies Gallery

    We divided the two classes into 8 groups, in which, every student had the opportunity to be the “master” and “apprentices” within the studio. We generated and distributed a role-allocation framework for each participant within the painting guild – what part they were expected to play in the studio. Each group had to re-interpret a significant Renaissance painting such as Perugino’s Marriage of a Virgin or Da Vinci’s Last Supper and recreate it using each member of the group. Students brought in old sheets, costumes and props and used digital cameras to capture their new work. The next challenge began at this point where each group was given a 1.5 x 2.5 metre piece of scene board. Where possible, the large format of each group work approximated the actual scale of some of the Renaissance paintings studied. The translation of each students A3 tableaux art work onto the scene board was a significant mathematical challenge to each group. Once they achieved accuracy with the grid dimensions to establish accurate proportions, they created under drawing to plot out the use of ‘chiaroscuro’ or ‘tonal range’. In a new development this year, the Visual Arts decided to purchase only a range of primary pigment colours. This extended the students understanding of colour mixing and its application, where they were required to use a palette appropriating an accurate reference to the original paintings.

    To conclude the unit, the students were briefed upon the requirements to present their work before their peers and articulate how 5 key areas of knowledge were managed by their group: historic reference and narrative, style, technique, composition scheme and application of art elements and principles.

    Students were assessed in three ways:

    • Design Process & Design Thinking: Using a rubric assessment grid to determine the development of the finished art piece;

    • The finished art work: A rubric was used based on set criterion which was delivered in the learning task;

    • Presentation: students were assessed on their ability to present their work to Pope and Lorezo Medici. Students were given criterions that needed to be addressed throughout the presentation.

    Team teaching has been a highly rewarding corollary of each of these learning tasks. Their reliance on adopting a flexible approach between clearly articulated requirements and organic modulation of the unit led to valuable exchanges and enlivened the process. Reflection, both staff and student, was critical during the tasks. During and after the assignments students used these reflections both to deepen their engagement in the task and to shape subsequent learning. For either Year 7, it enhanced their understanding of the world of the artist. This task was highly successful and immensely affirming as we saw students employ and master working methods and modes of accountability employed by others . Innovation is a hard concept to quantify but learning activities like this certainly make students develop new skills, ideas and understandings. This type of learning experience also challenged us to be innovative educators and risk takers. At times it was difficult but in the end the learning on all our parts was so much richer and meaningful.

    Using Minecraft to create and explore ideas

    minecraftedu_pic

    Throughout our Abstract Sculpture Unit of learning Year 8 Visual Arts students have been using Minecraft to generate their work. Minecraft is an open-ended ‘sand box’ game, where students can create, explore, collaborate and be experimental with their imagination. Its a game, where students can build and design structures. Using Minecraft in class students explored their creative thinking and geometry skills in creating structures within a 3D virtual environment. Below are the learning objectives of our Sculpture park.

    iBook_sculpture

    First we commenced the Unit with creating 3D drawings of our intended geometrical shaped sculptures. From this students had the opportunity to create this work virtually focusing on the sculpture elements of mass, void, space and gravity. All students were online at the same time and created the work in a purpose built sculpture park. They collaborated, destroyed, built, re-built, and made some amazing works. They used signs to post feedback to each other on their works. It was a fun project which will open up many more opportunities to use Minecraft to collaborate and create some more challenging projects. The next step is to collaborate with another class around the globe.

    When students are given control they can produce wonderfully creative things. Making learning deep with Minecraft! Check out Piper’s finished video.

    Students had to create a finished video which explained how they used sculpture techniques in their work. The videos were created and edited on their iPads. 

    Here are all of our amazing sculptures in Minecraft 🙂

    Head over to http://minecraftedu.com to find out more of how to get minecraftEdu into your classroom. Its easy and so much fun!

    About MinecraftEdu

    MinecraftEdu provides products and services that make it easy for educators to use Minecraft in the classroom. We make a special version of Minecraft specifically for classroom use. It contains many additions to the original game that make it more useful and appropriate in a school setting. We also offer a cloud-based solution for hosting Minecraft classroom servers so students and teachers can connect and play together. We also host a library of lessons and activities that are available for free, and there is a vibrant, active teacher community exploring uses of Minecraft in the classroom. Over 5,500 teachers in 40+ countries have used MinecraftEdu to teach subjects from STEM to Language to History to Art.

    My how to guide for setting up MinecraftEdu in your classroom.

    Collaborative musical chairs 

    Who doesn’t love a game of musical chairs?

    You would expect the act of drawing to be an intimately private process that doesn’t involve any collaboration. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I always find students believe they can’t draw, but what does that mean? You can’t place a mark on a page? It’s not realistic? There are so many misconceptions of what a drawing should be and the process that is involved. This activity tries to break this down. It is difficult to change the way students perceive drawing. Most consider a hyper realistic representation of form the pinnacle of what constitutes a good drawing. Breaking this misconception is hard. So we start with musical drawings. Everything we do has the key skill of collaboration at its centre.

    In this task, students had a time limit, music is playing and they rotate. Its as simply as that. But what happens with this brilliantly engaging activity is students value add to their peers drawings, they see mistakes,  they fix mistakes and ultimately improve the original drawing. This is peer assessment for drawing. They have to work fast and fill in the space using shapes, lines and block colour. They can’t be precious about the drawing, its not about making it perfect, its about capturing the forms and giving feedback to your peers.

    The final results

    Why you should use past students as experts 

    I have been lucky enough to work in many collaborative environments, where experts were readily available to shape my learning and provide inspiration which challenged my thinking. This is something that I have been keen to continue with my students. With point to point technology it is relatively easy to invite an expert into your class. Skype, FaceTime or even conversations over Twitter allow students to have quality discussions with experts from around the world. You would be surprised how willing people are to help your students. You never know, just ask. 

    Why I invite past students or experts in their field to collaborate.

    Steven Pinker an American experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist, highlights the idea of the curse of knowledge. Reading the work of Pinker he explains this as the inability to imagine what it is like for someone else not knowing something they do. If you think about, how many times have you explained a concept only to have vacant expressions on your students faces. Students are so much more likely to learn from each other or a slightly older expert who can remember how difficult it was to learn that concept. The issue for us is that we learnt it so long ago it’s hard to conceptualise our students not ‘getting it’.  Students or experts that recently learnt the idea are much more likely to explain the concept in a way that their peer will understand. The collaborative nature of this learning is fabulous, not only are students connecting and learning how to interact with others online they are also learning valuable ways of drilling into their learning challenge. It’s a powerful way for sudents to listen to stories from an expert on how they came to an idea or what challenged their learning. From my experience they are treated a little like rock stars from my students, look they made it! They genuinely engage with high quality questions that help them move their learning forward. Usually this is just the first conversation from point to point technology to face to face feedback in class, it all counts in making meaningful connections beyond the walls of the classroom. The feedback is excellent and develops a strong collaborative classroom environment. Students feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns and failures knowing that the expert brings a wealth of understanding which will help shape new directions.

    Year 9 design students receiving critical 1:1 feedback on their final designs from RMIT University Communication Design student  via Skype.  Students sent in their final designs for feedback and had a 10 minute conversation around their work. The students then had the opportunity to act on the feedback from the expert and re-submit their final design.

    Here is a reflection from a Yr 9 student regarding the process with an expert.

    The feedback I received was beneficial in many ways. It gave me a fresh eyes opinion on my final product, without the person knowing the process I used to create it. It gave me several ways in which I could further improve my work, such as sending me different fonts to use that would improve my hierarchy, adding curvature to select text sections to combine different parts of my work, and work with individual colours to adapt the style of my work. As well as this, it gave me feedback on what I had done well as reassurance and positive enforcement on what I could do again. I enjoyed receiving a different honest perspective on my work and I hope that in future design tasks I can partake in a similar system.

    As a teacher it is important to keep our connections with past students, they become experts following their passions and can help us push our current students learning forward.

    It’s also worth noting that there are loads of ways to connect with older professionals from around the world. Skype in the classroom https://education.skype.com has many ways to connect with global projects, professionals and teachers. I would also suggest directly contacting your expert. Twitter is a great one, start a hashtag or connect to the expert online and get students to ask questions. There are a multitude of ways to connect with people around the globe.  Happy connecting!