Collaboration between students

Today's @teachthought blogging challenge asks bloggers:
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?
I am well aware of the massive positive effect pupil-pupil interaction can have on learning. Thinking back to my own school days, I suspect I learnt at least as much (certainly in the subjects I was struggling with) from my friends and classmates as I did from formal teacher instruction. Sugata Mitra's hole-in-the-wall experiments illustrate clearly how children can learn almost anything through collaboration and experimentation. This is an uncomfortable reality when you earn your living as an old-school, face-to-face teacher.

But I don't think teachers are done for quite yet. Just today (sorry this post's a day late!) there was an article in the paper spelling out the problems with too much 'child-centred' learning; and I'm sure we all know colleagues who hide behind the 'I get kids to work it out for themselves' mantra to conceal their own laziness and/or inadequate subject expertise.

But I have been blown away (as teachers in my own school are tired of hearing) by the power of Google Doc for real collaboration between kids. I know there are other ways, but at the moment, for me, this is the most exciting. I wince when I think what I had to put up with in terms of computer-based collaboration before cloud computing became fashionable. And Google Classroom has made creating, sharing and collaborating between students even easier! As just one example of this I wrote this piece for Teaching Geography a year or so ago explaining what can be done. It's amazing.

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