Using the Ten Internet Collaborative Tools in K-12 Education
The core challenge the Internet presents to educators is how best to bring learners together, online, to learn together, in a collaborative inquiry-based learning context. We are all discovering a major impact of the Internet is through email, and other collaborative Internet tools, the quantity and quality of relationships are increasing.
There is no known limit to the impact one individual's creative contributions can make on others via Internet. The emphasis is beginning to shift from that of establishing the "physical infra-structure," to that of creating a common sense "social info-structure," combining learning, caring, and connectivity.
At the core of most Internet innovations is a collaborative relationship. If every time you hear the word "information" you substitute the word "relationships," you may be surprised at the clarity it provides. Instead of the "information age" we have the "relationships age." "Information managers" become "relationship managers." As we all gain more experience with the many collaborative tools available free on the Internet, our understanding will grow as to how to use them in increasingly effective ways.
There is no limit to the potential benefits of a good educator/learner online mentoring relationship, or of the global impact of one good educator’s self-published learning resources. Many mentoring models have emerged, showcasing how good educators combine caring, and connectivity, to produce motivated students and empowering learning outcomes. http://lone-eagles.com/mentor.htm
Project-based learning, (PBL,) centered on collaborative community problem-solving, has become an important constructivist instructional model for K-12 education. Simply put, a PBL activity is one that involves a group of learners in learning about something specific by actually doing something; research, discussions, and taking action.
There are many sources of PBL projects, already organized for you to utilize in your classroom. PBL project directories: http://lone-eagles.com/projects.htm Kids today, everywhere, are the technology leaders, and key change agents in society. Through PBL activities, youth and elders can find the opportunity to work together to create models for human activity that can impact the lives of potentially millions of people.
If you click through the Alaskan web tour of collaborative projects, and K-12 innovations, at http://lone-eagles.com/alaskan.htm, you'll find models where:
Students collaborate online to create instructional web sites to help others learn: 5000 student created instructional web sites are at http://www.thinkquest.org/library/
Students create community web pages celebrating local heros, organizations, through the Cyberfair competition. http://www.gsn.org/cf/index.html
As more and more people begin to understand that perhaps the Internet’s greatest potential is that of creating a true global transnational electronic democracy, more and more individuals will see how they too can make a worldwide contribution. Already, educators are sharing online tutorials worldwide on collaborative topics such as citizen activism; "The Virtual Activist" http://www.netaction.org/training and Electronic Democracy http://lone-eagles.com/democracy.htm. Expectations, and confidence, increase with experience, and we can expect to see expectations rise rapidly, particularly among our youth.
Teaching How to Build Learning Communities
School-to-work programs have sprung up attempting to address the readiness of students to enter the emerging knowledge economy. No longer can students train for a job they can expect to stick with for life, but instead students must be ready for short-term work opportunities based on a continually changing workplace,with Internet collaboration becoming more and more a required survival skill.
Teaching the process of ongoing self-directed, just-in-time learning, has become increasingly important. There is growing recognition that the skills for being an active participant in the emerging social info-structure will be fundamental to economic and social success. Emerging youth entrepreneurship project models, and School-to-Work programs, are pointing the way forward: http://lone-eagles.com/entrelinks.htm
With 15,000 cultures slated to receive Internet via new low-cost satellite systems over the next couple decades, in a world where half the population has never yet made a single phone call, the issue of how best to introduce the empowering components of collaborative learning communities via the Internet, within the context of individual cultures, have become a major global challenge. A report for the U.S. Agency for International Development titled "Native American/Alaskan/Hawaiian K12 Innovations Using Computers and Internet" has links to many inspiring cultural models: http://lone-eagles.com/usaid.htm
Students today, in all cultures, become technology leaders, and key change agents, when given the opportunity to explore, and demonstrate, computer and Internet applications. School and community network models serving as "instructional entrepreneurship cooperatives" would potentially allow all citizens to benefit from online instructional opportunities they would create themselves. In today’s world, it’s a fact; everyone can be both learner, and teacher, all the time.
The Internet has created the means by which anyone can learn, and/or teach, anyone, anywhere, anytime with no more cost than the time and caring. Unmet needs can be matched with excess resources, with greater efficiency than ever before. One person's creative efforts can be self-published globally, impacting potentially millions of individuals.
Indigenous youth worldwide can potentially help their cultures survive by learning to teach self-empowerment Internet and multimedia authoring skills to youth in other cultures, while remaining as a resource in one’s home village, engaged in a meaningful, culturally-supportive vocation.
So where does a busy educator begin with all these heady possibilities? We’re all kindergartners in the information age, and learn best through hands-on experience, and working with others. "Electronic Collaboration: A Practical Guide for Educators" is available at: http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/collab/elec-collab.pdf
Below you'll find an outline of the top 10 collaborative tools complete with tutorials, and sample sites with educational applications, for each tool http://lone-eagles.com/collab.htm Each section gives specific search terms which will provide you with additional tutorials and sample sites to explore. Ask your students to help you explore them and to imagine original uses for each!
THE TEN TOP INTERNET COLLABORATION TOOLS
Tutorials, Sample Educational Applications and Related Resources
The first two below, email and listservs, are by far the most commonly used, but the remaining options have unique benefits for education and are enjoying increased use as more educators understand what they offer!
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
IPhone and Internet Radio
Desktop Video Conferencing
VRML Chat Systems
1. EMAIL - One-to-one private interaction
Email is the most commonly used collaborative tool, particularly for private one-to-one communications. While there are schools which prohibit students from receiving school-provided email accounts, students know there are dozens of sites offering free email accounts. Would it make sense for the school to be the only place prohibiting this motivational tool for encouraging the development of reading, writing and collaboration skills? Students should be taught "netiquette" on how to collaborate politely, and should earn the right to an email account by demonstrating the maturity to use it responsibly.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account. Email can be read off-line, and use of one classroom account can allow for monitoring interaction. An offline browser can used to capture message pages for offline reading. Webwhacker is a good offline browser. Free evaluation copies and courses on using offline browsers are at: http://bluesquirrel.com/
Reach for the Sky
Free Email accounts available at:
For additional information search for email+tutorial*
2. LISTSERVS - one-to-many public interaction
Listservs, also called mailing lists, represent the most common form of group communications, the big advantage being the messages appear conveniently in your email box. You don't have to make an intentional effort to go somewhere to get your messages. Many sites offer free listservs. The skills for moderating, or steering, a quality discussion, and the experience and personalities of the participants, determine the quality of the interaction. Some listservs keep a digest of past messages, and/or post past messages on a web page archive accessible by anyone. Most listservs, however, do not store past messages, which leaves no option for those interested in reading past discussions. It is important for students to learn to use listservs as an essential collaborative tool!
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account. Listservs can be read off-line, and use of one classroom account can allow for monitoring interaction. An offline browser can used to capture message pages for offline reading. Webwhacker is a good offline browser. Free evaluation copies and courses on using offline browsers are at: http://bluesquirrel.com/
Create your own Free Listservs! Explore the following listserv tutorials for beginners and the listserv resources at http://www.topica.com Be sure to review their listserv tutorials for beginners found at http://www.topica.com/create/index2.html and/or by clicking on their HELP link next to the search bar . Similar free listservs and tutorials are at http://groups.yahoo.com and dozens of other sites easily found by searching for "free listservs."
Workplace to Workspace; Using Email Lists to work together online
By Maureen James and Liz Rykert IDRC 1998
You'll find links to all chapters in the table of contents at the URL above, but you're advised to
buy the book and support the generous author!)
Reach for the Sky
For additional information search for listservs+tutorial*
3. NEWSGROUPS - Site-based one-to-many small group and/or public
Newgroups can be read with any browser, and there are roughly as many newsgroups as listservs. Newsgroups require the extra step of using the newsreader feature that is part of most browsers to access the message archives. Newsgroups are searchable, but often have little educational content. Unfortunately, because anyone can participate, many discussions are reduced to the lowest levels of spiteful interaction. Local newsgroups can be an effective form of public conferencing when moderated for appropriate content.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements:Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account. Newsgroups can be read off-line, and use of one classroom account can allow for monitoring interaction. An offline browser can used to capture message pages for offline reading. Webwhacker is a good offline browser. Free evaluation copies and courses on using offline browsers are at: http://bluesquirrel.com/
Reach for the Sky
http://www.dejanews.com/ Create your own free newsgroup!
For additional information search for newsgroups+tutorial*
BBSes preceded widespread access to Internet and provided text-based public interaction inexpensively by sharing messages internationally through local BBSes. Today, most BBSes are more accurately a form of web conferencing, requiring users to go to the BBS web site to read messages. BBSes represent a very viable format for public interaction. Features vary.
4. BBSes - Site-based one-to-one private, one-to-many small group, and/or
http://www.geocities.com/ Take the GeoTour.
Discovery Channel School BBSES
For additional information search for BBSES+tutorial*
5. WEB-CONFERENCING (Multiple formats exist) - Graphical
Web-conferencing is the generic term for public interaction via web-based environments. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different free and commercial programs exist. Features vary, with innovative new capabilities appearing regularly. Some systems function as both listservs and as web-based conferencing systems.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements:Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account. Must be online to read messages unless an offline browser is used to capture message pages for offline reading. Webwhacker is a good offline browser. Free evaluation copies and courses on using offline browsers are at; http://bluesquirrel.com/
David Woolley’s Guides and Clearinghouse:
For additional information search for web+conferencing+tutorial*
Tutorial: Search for IRC+tutorial*
6. INTERNET RELAY CHAT (IRC) - "Live" public one-to-one and
Typically requiring installation of a chat client software program, "live" text interaction occurs in real time, which is limiting for those with busy schedules, but motivating and great fun for those eager to communicate with interesting people via Internet. Most chat systems allow false names and the discussions are often trivial and/or sexually oriented. Many schools prohibit student access to chat systems, partially because that's all some students would do, if allowed. Thoughtful use of chat systems by educators is rare, but can yield very real educational benefits. As is the case with all technologies, it depends on the human vision for good or bad application.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account will work on those systems not requiring a software client program to be downloaded and installed on your computer before use. Will work fine with lower-end equipment and bandwidth.
Sample Sites: Search for "IRC" OR search for Internet+Relay+Chat
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: Any browser and/or email program with any type of Internet account. Must be online to read messages unless an offline browser is used to capture message pages for offline reading, which might be too restrictive for this environment. A dedicated server with specific software may be required depending on the scope of your intended use.
7. MUDS/MOOS - Similar to Chat, but featuring enhanced control and
MUDS (Multi-User Dungeon Systems) and MOOS (Multi-user Object-Oriented Systems) have been used in very educational settings, and evolved from a gaming system called Dungeons and Dragons. Original systems use only text but allow users control over various features. Students love to have such control, which also teaches computer programming concepts. Graphical systems exist but interaction is still text-based.
Educators will have to learn a fair bit before they are able to evaluate, or utilize these types of systems. Elegant sample applications do exist which even very young students found wonderfully motivating. Worth exploring, but might be time consuming before benefits are realized. Often requires a special server and software. Such systems can involve interactive fiction, role-playing, and online theatrical performances.
Model Sample Application: The Pueblo Project
Using MUD's and MOOS with elementary Native American students
Georgia Tech's MOOSE crossing and other projects
Frequently Asked Questions:
For additional information search for MUDS+tutorials or MOOS+tutorials
8. IPHONE and INTERNET RADIO - Internet telephone and audioconferencing; one-to-one or one-to-many. Also, Internet Radio capabilities.
A newer technology that allows anyone to host their own free international Internet radio station in real time. IPHONE is a software program that allows free two-way phone converations via Internet.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: As current a browser as possible, with appropriate software and pluggin’s, will be required. A bandwidth sensitive application with the low end starting at around 28,800 baud. Microphone and speakers required, though these are built into most modern computers. Faster computers with modern audio enhancements recommended.
Resources and Hands-on examples:
Real Audio Sites with Software and Tutorials:
For additional information search for Iphone or Internet+radio
9. DESKTOP VIDEO CONFERENCING - "Live" one-to-one or one-to-several video interaction
Using a $70 color video camera, free software, a computer and Internet connection you can have color two-way video with audio of a quality dependent on your bandwidth. Fun to play with, questionable in its readiness for teaching online, but well worth getting your students involved with. The inexpensive camera can be used for many creative classroom activities such as creating student video files, still pictures, or automatically updating a photo on your school web page every 15 seconds of whatever your camera is pointed at.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements: As current a browser as possible, with appropriate software and pluggin’s, will be required. A bandwidth sensitive application with the low end starting at around 28,800 baud. Video camera, microphone and speakers required, though these are built into most modern computers. Faster computers with newer video enhancements recommended.
PC and Mac Software and tutorials for CU-SEE-ME:
http://www.gsn.org/cu/index.htmlIncludes hundreds of school sites using automatic photo updates!
Mac software for QuicktimeVR:
Tutorial for Educators and just plain folks
Quicktime video tutorials/software:
Paint Shop Pro 5.0 software and tutorials
The best free program for photo and image manipulation!
For additional information search for
desktop video conferencing+tutorial*
As current a browser as possible, with appropriate software and pluggin’s, will be required. Typically requires downloading and installing on your computer a client software program. A bandwidth sensitive application with the low end starting at around 28,000 baud. Faster computers are recommended.
10. VRML CHAT SYSTEMS - Using three dimensional 'avatars' for one-to-one "live" chat using animated 3 dimensional characters.
How does using your mouse to navigate your blue bear avatar through rooms and hallways, and using text chat to schmooze the butterfly and other avatars, translate to good education, you might ask? Depends on your vision. It is certainly motivating for students to want to read and write. Future systems will have audio discussions and life-like video representations of people. Consider "live theater" as an eventual application.
Equipment, Software and Access Requirements:
See VRML listings at end of this resource!
http://www.worlds.net/(great free demo!)
For additional information search for VRML+tutorial*
In Conclusion:As a good educator, you should know that the ten collaborative tools of the Internet, and other Internet educational possibilities, are less about the technology and more about the process by which we, as individual human beings, learn to use these new tools to help others learn. While we may not have all the time, skills, and equipment we’d like, we generally all have much greater opportunities available to us, than we’ve yet explored. We’re limited only by our collective imaginations!
One thing is indisputably true; as an individual self-directed learner, and as an educator, regardless of your situation, you have more potential for creating exciting collaborative activities, than those who lived at any other time in history. Your greatest opportunity is to begin taking action, through hands-on exploration, to grow your vision of what’s now possible.http://lone-eagles.com/eagle.htm
NOTE: For more on emerging lifestyles for educators see: "Lone Eagles Learn to Teach from Any Beach"
BIOGRAPHY: Frank Odasz served as a teacher educator at Western Montana College of the University of Montana, in Dillon, MT for 13 years and as director of the well-known Big Sky Telegraph network which offered online courses to rural teachers from 1988 to 1998. Now president of Lone Eagle Consulting, Frank is teaching online courses to those who aspire to become lone eagles through instructional entrepreneurship. From Feb. 1 1998 –March 20, 1999 Frank spent over 100 days in Alaska delivering Internet workshops to 11 Native Alaskan villages and to IDEA homeschoolers in six major Alaskan cities.
All Frank’s resources, courses, articles, and services are accessible at http://lone-eagles.com/