Collaborating effectively is an important skill for both students and teachers. A good digital citizen can use online tools to work with people from around the world.
Many schools are using project-based learning as they adopt the new curriculum and assessments based on current educational research. Projects will often require complex research and investigation tasks that need to be broken up. The internet was built for sharing information and collaborating, so learning how to collaborate well and use online tools to their full potential will help you get the most from your projects.
While the principles of good teamwork are universal, online collaboration comes with some extra considerations. Whether you are working face-to-face or online, you and your group will need:
- Effective communication – keep in mind that written online communication does not come with body language or tone of voice, so avoid sarcasm or irony to make your meaning clear.
- Clear responsibilities – online collaboration often means that group members are working independently, so it is important to ensure that every member of the group has a clearly defined role with specific responsibilities.
- Mutual respect – collaboration works best when many perspectives are considered. You and your group will get the most out of your project if everyone has a chance to contribute, and establishing an expectation of mutual respect will encourage everyone to speak their mind.
- Time management – just like any project, there is always a deadline. Some times it is hard to judge how long one particular aspect of a project is going to take. When distributing your responsibilities try to think about the length of time something is going to take as part of this process, as you want it to be fair for everyone. Try using Microsoft Planner.
Most schools will have a preferred online collaboration platform, but a good digital citizen is flexible and adaptable. You should know something about the different systems that you may have to work with.
- Google G Suite for Education: includes Google Classroom, Google Docs and Google Sites.
- Microsoft Office 365: includes Microsoft Teams and OneNote.
- Moodle: can include wiki creation tools and group blogs.
The principles of collaboration remain the same, but learning the strengths and limitations of your school’s chosen platform will help you and your team work together more effectively.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- ‘The key to teaching collaboration’, Pursuit (University of Melbourne), accessed 21 March 2019