Over the past few years I have been asked how to run a successful international collaboration from school to school. After much thought and reflection I have decided to blog about my experiences and the knowledge I have gained.
As an experienced teacher who has had success with multiple International Collaborations, I would advise you and your GLOBE students to start by getting involved in an existing GLOBE campaign online, rather than trying to start a project of your own. This is a great way to get your feet wet before you dive in.
Participating in other campaign projects is a fantastic way to meet other potential partners, and learn about the many different projects initiated by NASA, teachers and students throughout GLOBE. It can be a great way to develop ideas about how to integrate collaborative projects into your classroom, without having to take on the role of facilitating the involvement of other classes your first time participating.
Here is the links on how to get started in GLOBE Campaigns related to NASA Earth Observing Satellite missions.
AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network (AREN)
Arctic and Earth SIGNs
As you begin participating in GLOBE campaign projects associated with GLOBE, you will soon find that you have international colleagues and peers to turn to should you wish to coordinate a project of your own in the future. In this way, your classroom truly becomes a global community member that can draw on the knowledge of a network as your classroom develops throughout the year. And, you will certainly develop ideas about how you would want to structure a project as a facilitator after experiencing at least one yourself.
I found that it was easy to find teachers that were interested in projects that my GLOBE students suggested. I just had to communicate with the school and set up the agenda and time schedule to begin. After numerous initial emails setting up a time frame that worked for all stakeholders I was able to facilitate and expand our classroom project that reached across the globe. When it comes to the initial communication and setting up expectations, err on the side of over communicating. It is important that everyone knows what he or she is getting into.
As you begin to explore the possibilities for cross-cultural interaction, global classroom projects, and new learning opportunities, the following Hyperlink on the GLOBE website can assist you in your efforts. Also might I suggest you contact the helpdesk that can aid you to make connections.
Teams are expected to produce results, but performance is hindered when team members do not work well together. A collaborative team environment is essential for the team's success. I have learned by trial and error over the past few years. I have compiled a detailed list of important contributions that I believe are needed by all participants to have a successful international collaboration.
When facilitating meetings I ask each team of researchers to independently identify at least 4 reasonable, insightful, creative ideas or questions to pursue when doing the research.
It is important that everyone routinely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in the online meetings or discussion. Each team knows the purpose of the research project. The purpose is clearly identified and stated.
Each school needs to provide a student who is the definite leader who will be responsible for communication amongst students. The use of social media is quite helpful. The lead students must be willing to contribute a lot of effort.
Before the project begins each teacher designates a secretary to take clear, accurate, dated notes that are taken regularly throughout the year of research. This information is recorded using a Google Folder.
Have a Common Purpose and Goal: It is important that each student in the group can clearly explain what information is needed by the group, what information she or he is responsible for collecting, and when the information is needed.
Quality of the work: Each team must provide work of the highest quality. Data must be collected by strictly adhering to GLOBE protocols. It is also important that each team member is responsible for collecting the same data throughout the project.
Time Management: Each team should routinely use time well throughout the project to ensure things get done on time. Group members do not have to adjust deadlines or work out responsibilities.
Problem Solving: Teachers are willing to actively look for and suggest solutions to problems on communications and scheduled meetings. Flexibility is key to making things work when dealing with different time zones.
Attitude: All team members stay positive in every area when communicating about project. Never is it acceptable to be publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Always has a positive attitude about the tasks that is required. Work to clear up misunderstandings quickly and accurately. The Teacher should always reinforce and recognize team member efforts.
Focus on the Work: Consistently stays focused on the task and what needs to be done. Every member of the team needs to very self-directed and motivated to complete task.
Preparedness: Each team sends data before scheduled online meeting. I suggest a day before the meeting. This will give team members time to formulate questions about information. Every member brings needed materials to class and is always ready to work.
Monitors Group Effectiveness: Teachers routinely monitor the effectiveness of the group, and makes suggestions to make it more effective. This may mean replacing a team member if they are unable to keep up with the work required.
Working with Others: Every team member should always listen to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. It is important to facilitate the meetings and try to keep people working well together.
Pride: Work reflects this student's best efforts.
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered and in the final research product. All students can independently explain the planned organization of the research findings. It is always important to record all data on the GLOBE website to be shared with the GLOBE community.
Group independently develops a reasonable, complete timeline describing when different parts of the work (e.g.,planning, research, first draft, completed scientific poster) will be done. All students in the group can independently describe the high points of the timeline. This timeline is often based upon the deadlines given to us by the Regional Meetings and the Annual GLOBE meeting.
Students include 4 or more high-quality examples or pieces of data to support their research. This data should be collected periodically throughout the year.
Before each online scheduled meeting, the students need to prepare several in-depth AND factual questions to ask. Often these questions have to do with a cultural exchange and have little to do with the actual research. These questions help to build a strong collaboration and friendship amongst students.
During our meeting the student are encouraged to listen carefully to the person speaking and ask several relevant follow-up questions based on what the person said.
All procedures are listed in clear steps and shared with each school participating in research project. Each step is numbered and is a complete well-worded sentence.
Steps should be understandable.
The scientific poster is well organized and contains accurate information and data collected from each school throughout the year. Comparison graphs are created and added to information. Students create an original, accurate and interesting scientific poster and the product that adequately addresses the research topic.
Although it is impossible to avoid pitfalls when beginning an International Collaboration, being prepared makes the difference. The most important advice is that careful planning is essential. Lay out everyone's responsibilities and expectations, define ways to build a supportive network, put in place strategies to meet all the demands and requirements of the project.
Good Luck to you as you continue to learn and grow as a GLOBE teacher. While this can be a difficult process, the results that you will achieve are worth all of the hard work that you will put in!