The Power of Collaboration

I was honored to speak this past Friday at a new conference at Keene State College designed to gather together New Hampshire educators in the Southwest portion of the state. The goal of the day was for educators to meet those with similar positions and form collaborative relationships that will last long after the day was done. Frankly it was a major accomplishment for the Superintendents and School Boards to actually agree to the same professional learning day.

My hour with the full group of 400 educators focused on the power of collaboration. We know from the work of Rick and Becky Dufour that the best way to increase student achievement is to open the walls of our classrooms and collaborate within our teams. But let’s take it a step farther and open up the walls to our school which we can do with great efficiency via technology tools.

Professional Learning has certainly changed:

1. Digital media allows us to connect, wherever, whenever.
Our connections from even 10 years ago were primarily just our own colleagues in our school. Now we have numerous options. Do you like blogging? Give Google’s Blogger a try. How about Twitter? Get started with Tweetdeck so that you can see many streams at the same time. Speaking of Twitter, do you like chats? Check out #satchat every Saturday morning.

2. The Smarter Person in the room is the room.
There is enormous power in the synergy that we create when we work together. There’s an exponential increase in creativity when we effectively collaborate.

3. The bar has been raised, the culture has changed, and our world expects us to meet the challenge.
Any doubt that the rise in technology has increased our educational urgency? Check out these innovations that did not exist in the summer of 2001:

  • The iPod came out in October 2001.
  • iTunes did not exist until 2003.
  • Facebook and Gmail were not introduced  until 2004.
  • Twitter debuted in 2006.
  • The iPhone was first released in 2007.
  • The iPad was first sold in 2010.

I propose the theory of User Generated Learning (UGL) as a way to begin the journey toward digital learning and collaboration. Simply put, there are three major components, thanks to the work of Kristen Swanson.

CURATION: Collection of relevant content.
REFLECTION: Assimilation of new content, challenging current beliefs, and solving problems.
CONTRUBUTION: Sharing your knowledge with local and world wide colleagues.

Here’s a summary mind map…click on the link for a larger picture:

Click here for a copy of my slides and links to Friday’s keynote.

Has digital learning made a difference in how you grow professionally?

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