Saturday, August 4, 2012

Using technology to learn collaboratively.

I agreed that in order to understand ideas deeply, there must be some interactive conversation take place.  The collaborative journal writing which mentioned in this online article sounds brilliant that it does not only provide a forum for students to share their learning process and strategies but also create an opportunity for students to have writing conversations back and forth with their peers. 

I have done similar activities with my students in a non-technology environment. I found it helpful since through the activities, students had chances to discuss what they learned and share what they missed from the contents that other students have found. The only disadvantage was that students had to wait until the next class to get their journals back,  then write back to their partners and exchange the next time again.

Therefore, I think online collaborative journal writing can really save both students and teachers a lot of time. Students can do their research while writing their journal as homework.

Furthermore, for teachers this is a great way to train "expert learners". Teachers can assign writing assignments following the order of  Planning Starters, Reflective Starters and Comment or Discussion Starters, mentioned on the site, Scaffolding For Deep Understanding.  
For example, every student will start a piece beginning with "I want to learn...", then read other people's writing online to write their reflections, for instance, "I learned...". After they have read other people's learning refections, each student will choose one colleauge's writing to write his/her response, such as "I disagree with you because...". Finally, all studnets have to write a work or artist's statement to conclude their project learning process and appreciate others cooperation.  

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