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Posts Tagged ‘collaboration

Justin Tarte put more plainly and eloquently what I illustrate and say to some groups of future educators.

What I do as part of some workshops is get future faculty to experience and evaluate individual and group-based quizzes using multiple-choice questions. The individual quizzes are stressful and the norm of schools and higher education. The group-based quizzes are fun, challenging, enriching, and an eye-opener for future faculty.

What I say when we rise above the activity is: What the rest of the world calls collaboration or normal work, schools and universities call cheating. If we claim to be preparing students for work, why do we perpetuate this disconnect?

The norm outside much of schooling and higher education is to “cheat” in formal or informal teams by collaborating, accessing, and connecting. The common tool for doing this is the phone. This is the very same object whose presence is still frowned upon in classrooms.
 

 
So what is a change agent or future faculty to do? I recommend that they not try to take on the system by fighting individual-based quizzes and exams. Instead, they might consider how team-based quizzes might be used during tutorials, laboratory and studio sessions, and even lectures. These then become opportunities for students to get formative feedback and to learn by peer teaching.

My recommendation is a cheat code. In video games, a cheat code is applied to make a boss or challenge easier to deal with. Sometimes it unlocks new abilities. In pedagogical design, it allows an educator to change a system insidiously from within.

Just one of CNET’s eleven reasons why Apple and Adobe should fear Microsoft caught me eye. It was Microsoft Story Remix (MSR).


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The video above outlines what MSR might do.

I was not impressed with the bling factors like the fire football and exploding goal. I was taken more by the seamless combining of videos shot by different people.

The seamless stitching is an example of using technology productively and meaningfully. The software does the heavy lifting of collating videos and presenting preliminary cuts and sequences. The human can decide to make tweaks like rearranging sequences and providing one or more foci. The software and humanware each do what they do best.

Is creativity threatened by technology now? Only if we let it do all the doing and thinking.

The technologies we invent are our tools and instruments. We need to acknowledge that we shape our tools and instruments, and in doing so, they influence our expectations and behaviours.

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. -- Marshall McLuhan.

With something like MSR, there is no need to hoard and rely on individually shot videos. Instead, there is incentive to share and truly collaborate. Contributors simply need to upload to a shared space.

Once the videos are there, each contributor can make their own video or they can rely on one person to do this. In either case, MSR take the tedium out of the task.

Anything that promotes meaningful and helpful collaboration is good in my book. MSR is a great example of how to design for it.

Disclosure: This reflection was not prompted by or paid for by Microsoft. It is also not a product endorsement. My focus is about powerful and meaningful integration of technology for education. My goal is not to make rich corporations richer. It is to enrich the thinking of educators.

Many years ago, I used to tease student teachers into thinking more deeply about the differences between cooperation and collaboration. I would say:

  • Cooperation is 1+1=2
  • Collaboration is 1+1=3

They would eventually figure out some elements of what John Spencer distilled recently.

But the more direct answer to my riddle is in this tweet.

The result of cooperation is often the sum of its parts. The result of collaboration is a new birth.


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Today I share another part of my series on informal and emergent learning with Minecraft. This episode focuses on opportunities for connecting and collaborating with other players.

This video is different in a few ways.

First, instead of presenting it as one continuous video, there are a total of five smaller parts (including the introduction above).

Second, this video was a combination of videos recorded and edited over a few weekends. I typically try one-take wonders because they are easier to edit. But the new version of iMovie in Mac OS Maverick is more usable than the previous version so I am flexing a little post-production muscle.

Third, this video does not include the usual CeL-Ed lead-in and lead-out video segments. This is to prevent confusion when selecting which parts to watch.

I recommend watching the videos on a desktop or laptop web browser so that you can click on hotspots. But I provide links to the video segments in the video descriptions in YouTube should you be on a more mobile device.


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When I watched yesterday’s Wongfu Weekend episode with my son, I told him this was a good instance of how cooperation is often better than competition.

Minecraft is a sandbox game that has no fixed rules. As a player, you decide what you want to do, and that is probably one of the major reasons why this game is so popular.

In the video, Phil and Wes (who are new to the game) are coached by Ted and David respectively.

Phil and Ted opted to take the more constructive route. Wes and David went on a destructive rampage. They eventually fought each other even as zombies, skeletons, and spiders attacked them both.

If they had cooperated, they would have survived the night. Because they competed, their game avatars died. That is a lesson in Minecraft you can take into life.


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I used to show other videos to generate discussion on the differences between cooperation and collaboration.

I think I will start using the one above as it is more apt at drawing out principles of true collaboration.

I like watching Marco Tempest, technoillusionist extraordinaire! I have watched his TED talks and now I feature his talk on Inventing the Impossible.


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One of the things he said struck a chord with me.

He explained how magicians of old lived by the code of secrecy. But in modernizing magic with technology, he found that he could not protect his knowledge. Instead, he chose to share experiences with his audience and saw the importance of collaborating with others. He might be the first person to coin the phrase “open source magic”!

I think the parallels in education are in collaborating, being open, and collaborating openly.

There is too much information now for one person to know. Teachers need to form collaborative networks of teachers-as-learners if we are to stay relevant to our learners.

As we teach, we could share openly instead of hoarding what we think we know. If we do not share, our audience will simply go elsewhere. If we do not share, we do not build up our reputational capital.

The problems we leave for our children are more complex than ours and we do not have all the solutions. But we could adopt an approach that will help them solve those problems. That approach is open collaboration. After all, we cannot each be brilliant, but we can be collectively brilliant.

One other thought: A talent like Marco Tempest draws from multiple fields. He is good at what he does not just because he specializes, but also because he can connect the dots by connecting with other people.


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