Rubric for a quality project: 4. Collaboration
We resume our series of articles on quality criteria in eTwinning with what is probably the most important one on the list: collaboration.
Tools, tips, project proposals and, in general, all the support and inspiration you can find in eTwinning, have the main objective of generating contexts for collaboration among the associated schools. It is the criteria which join and give meaning to all the others.
Let us begin by establishing what collaboration is NOT. Of course, not all project activities have to be collaborative, but somehow they must at least prepare, facilitate or contribute elements for such collaboration to take place. In the previous article we analyzed communication among participants. Collaboration requires efficient communication, but it is necessary to go one step further. Collaboration is not only communicating, just as it is not merely about schools working separately and ultimately being limited to adding up the results of their work, either by collecting files in a common folder or uniting them in a larger file. For an activity to be collaborative, communication should have an operational objective related to a particular target (for example, videoconferences to decide the best presentation format for work, or common folders to upload documents that colleagues need). Working in parallel should be replaced by joint efforts, coordinated in a team. Finally, the end product should not be a simple sum, but the result of interconnected contributions, in which it is difficult to determine which parts have been done by whom, because all are closely related.
Indeed, the final product is vital to the design of a collaborative activity. If we wish to create a book organized into chapters by country, then we are already placing limits in this approach to the level of collaboration that we can achieve; we only need a simple sum of partial jobs. We must aim for products requiring communication, interaction and knowledge transfer between the group members. The division of tasks should not be organized by country, but based on the variety of skills and abilities within a group, whose members must rely on mutual need. Basically, it just involves changing one parameter: when we begin a project in eTwinning, we are no longer in two different classes with one teacher and 30 pupils in each one. What we have in eTwinning is a single classroom with two teachers and 60 pupils. The space is no longer determined by the walls, or the physical distance: the classroom is the network. If we divide pupils into groups, there is no reason for members to have to sit at adjoining tables; it is enough for them just to be able to communicate with each other. You can see a more detailed explanation in the video below.
Let’s consider the descriptors of the different quality levels for point “4. Collaboration among associated schools”.
- It is not proposed and there is no collaboration
- No collaborative activities or products are proposed, although there are attempts, which have failed.
- Same as above, but not all attempts have been unsuccessful and there is some sporadic collaboration.
- There are clear signs of collaborative activities. This collaboration is shown in a TwinSpace, a blog or any other well organized communication tool showing the work of pupils (classified by subject, for example), giving a clear idea of exchanges and cooperation between them.
- Collaborative activities have resulted in work or an end product achieved by using especially appropriate tools (wiki, for example).
- Same as above, but with particularly high quality; productions are original, international work is rigorous…
Sometimes it seems that the highest levels of cooperation can only be achieved with older pupils. However, this is not so. A good example of a collaborative project with primary activities of great quality is “Booky’s Books for you,“ by the teacher Maite Elejalde, from the “Virgen de la Guía” primary school in Portugalete, eTwinning National Award 2015.
Source of images: SNA eTwinning.