How To Increase The Collaborative Value Of A Task


In this video, you will learn that collaboration doesn’t just happen by default. Collaboration happens when you foster an environment in which collaboration works.


0:01:01 When collaboration happens and two aspects of collaboration

0:01:09 Two aspects of collaboration

0:02:43 Three fundamentals to make collaboration work

0:04:00 How to make the fundamentals of collaboration work


Mike: So in terms of this document, what I am doing is kind of just working through some of this information here so we talked about websites, we talked about iPad apps, so the Chrome web store, which I’ll show you in a minute.

It’s not going to work on your iPad at the moment. We talked about Google apps for education. It’s a free account where you can manage students’ details. We talked about sharing folders and docs.

When it comes to working with students in a classroom, one of our frustrations, of teachers, is that sometimes students are engaged sometimes they’re disengaged. They’re all at different levels of ability. You can’t just assume that your students are going to be able to pick up a computer and just be aces at it. There’s going to be levels of resistance, of your students, just like there’s levels of resistance in your own staff. So you may have work partners in place that enable students to manage that kind of apprehension and so on.

One of the things that you need to understand about collaboration is that collaboration doesn’t just happen by default. Collaboration happens when you foster an environment in which collaboration works.

There’s two aspects to this. One aspect is that we have a document right now that is open to you guys to edit and so any one of you could come in and delete that. You can edit it. You can change things around. There’s nothing stopping you. So that can be a nightmare in terms of how do you manage that workflow and how do you manage the appropriate behavior and so on. But you also got to understand that in terms of intellectual property and respect of the students’ work and so.

One of the ways I want you to think about this is if you guys were my students and you’re writing in a notebook and I wanted you to do some group work in collaboration and share ideas. So just say you get up out of your seat. You walk across the room, you reading another student’s work and you disagree with them or you think you could make it better. So you get a pen, you scribble all over their notes and then you write more notes that you thought were better. As a teacher, we do clap and cheer and celebrate and say yeah for collaboration or do you want to kick their butt? Which way would it go? Probably kicking their butt, right, because they haven’t respected our work and property and so on.

One of the problems you have when things are online is that students sometimes, because it’s on a computer screen they don’t see the value of it. You know? So I don’t actually let my students go in and edit each other’s work and I don’t let them go and change things, delete student’s work, make it their own and so on.

But any time any student is doing any form of collaboration, whether it’s a team thing outside, on the field, whether it’s inside the classroom or it’s on a piece of cardboard, whether it’s discussion, there are three fundamentals to make collaboration work. So those three fundamentals are up there on the screen and you need to read, you need to reflect and you need to respond.

So how this works is that you have students working in a group and those students need to read what the other students have put in input. They need to reflect on what the other students have contributed and they need to be asking themselves the question, “What can I contribute to make this better?” Because at the end of the day, if we’re doing a group task, and the task isn’t better for it, what was the point of doing the group task? There’s no benefit.

So if we’re doing collaboration, the end product has to be better because we’ve worked together as a team rather than just individuals.

So they need to be reading what the other students are contributing, whether that’s verbally, watching, whatever. They need to be reflecting on what’s being contributed and then they need to respond somehow to how they are going to make it better.

So once you start to put this workflow into a Google doc, it’s not that that student engagement just magically happens, you’ve got to pull the right strings at the right time to make things happen.

So you build this great reflect respond into your class culture.

If you drop down into that document just a little bit, you’ll see how we make this work. Down here I’ve got a table. Now with that table what I’ve done is I’ve just gone up to table, insert table and I’ve just dropped a number of rows in, right?

Now, what I do with that is I put the students into tables. So what I would do is I’d come in here and I’d say this here is me and what I want you to do is go and find a row and just put your name into it. Now, if you’re working on an iPad right now, you’ll notice that tables don’t work in an iPad just yet so you need to go to that desktop view and force it to work like a computer.

But because it’s forcing it, it’s not going to be as seamless as what you would’ve had. If you’re at the bottom of the table and you’ve run out of space, then if you just hit tab, it’ll drop another line in for you. So you have four students working on a group task. You drop a table in they select the line. Now, in terms of workflow, they can’t edit each other’s work. They can’t write in each other’s space but we still want them to read, reflect and respond. So they need to use a suite of tools to make this happen.

So the first one is here. If you’ve got your name in it just write a short sentence for me. It could be anything you like.

So the students are reading. Now if you read my comment, in that line where it says, “Mike is cool.” If you reflect on what I’ve written, what would you like to say about that? I spelt cool wrong, in your opinion. But we often have the cool people who spell cool with “k”. I would like you coming in and then just go here, for he spelled cool wrong so let me just delete the “k” and write the “c”. For two reasons, one of the teacher I’ve got that idea that that’s actually happened so I can attribute some students actually contributed and secondly that’s why I stopped. That’s why good coming out of my books scribbling in it and writing around here. But we don’t let that happen.

So I still want that two happening principles just how it happens. So what you would do is you would come in, you would highlight that word, that’s where you go up to the comment button or you go insert comment and then you could say, “Spell it cool.” All right?

Now, this has got my name, it has got time stamp and it has got my comment. Now just like I showed you in the keynote, we can click on that and then you could leave a reply and so on. So what you get is this commentary stuff.

So the students aren’t editing each other’s work in terms of just writing over stuff. They’re still reading ideas and things. Once you’ve got this kind of thing going, initially what I would do is I would attribute some marks to students in how they leave comments on one of them. What will happen is very quickly this becomes like the social media thing where no one liked my Facebook status, people get upset about it. Your students leave a comment they expect someone to read their comment, reflect on their comment and respond on it.

Now the person who reads the comment initially, when they feel like the conversation is closed, generally what we say is that person can click resolve. Now anyone can click resolve at any time but when you click resolve, what happens is it takes it and puts it up into this comments button up here and just gives you some real estate back on your screen.

So as a teacher, I would come in, click on comments, I can see time stamped who made comments, who replied to comments and so on.

Now, if somebody puts in here a comment and they accidentally resolve it, if I add a comment it’s going to reopen it or I can click the reopen button just here and have that comment reopened again. So once it’s resolved, it’s not final, it’s just managing that comment string.

The other way that we use this is that we go file and say, “See revision history” and then we’ve got like this revision history that comes through.

So I can go back and see when the students have worked and so on. So just a reminder, if I click here, it’ll take me back in time and this green writing here I know that I wrote that because it’s green next to my name. All right?

So I am looking at this and Aaron is a real bully. So Aaron says to Stacy, “If you don’t do my work I’m going to beat the snot out of you.” So Stacy just jumped into Aaron’s column and writes as if she’s Stacy. She writes.

What happens is I can then trace that back if I need to. See actually you didn’t do the work somebody else did the work. Everybody clear on that? If someone wrote in there, “Craig is an idiot” I know who wrote that because it’s back there. They can’t. What I do is I have an image doc ready to go where you’ve done some of this and you just show it to the students and say, “I’m well aware of what you’ve done so don’t even bother trying.”

The reality is Google doesn’t have every single thing that happens. It has just taken snap shots so sometimes the students can get away with it but generally speaking it works pretty well. So we are okay with that revision history and the commenting section?

So in terms of working this through, what you have to do is you want to build culture around this. So remember the faster you can give these back to your students, the more intrinsically motivated they will be.

So as a teacher, you don’t have to let the students be working on an assessment task for two weeks or so and realise they are offtrack. You can catch them in the moment, leave them feedback, share a resource. You could even leave voice comments for your students where you just talk to them and then pull that voice comment and then keep track of every student and the students can always start to work together.

So does anyone have any questions about workflow and how that works? Okay. So the key here is it’s not about the tool. It’s about what works, what power your tool gives. So you got to have some reasons for it. If you just tell your students hey I’ve got the Google doc and all collaborate, you’re not getting it anywhere near the level of collaboration that you would get, if you actually spend some time and just think.

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