Friday, February 24, 2012

Collasbos: Not Just for Rappers

In American society, we tend to push the underlying themes of Capitalism on our kids from a very early age. The idea of competitiveness, of being the best at something, or having self reliance and individuality are all encompassed here. [Note that I am not expressing whether or not these are correct or incorrect ideals, I am only stating facts here and comparing them to another ideal.] By adopting these mindsets, we leave behind the idea of a sense of community and working together, which I feel are absolutely necessary in order for a society to continue to meld together. Granted, this discussion can get extremely political incredibly quickly, and it's a slippery slope from then on. However, I feel that we often forget that the option of working together to accomplish a goal is both a necessary skill to work on, but also can be hard for students to do at times if they are used to having control over their own situations or have not yet learned to effectively work together. This can tread on some more serious issues in society like mental or social learning handicaps, but for the sake of covering the reading in the book I suppose we must set the exemptions aside here for the time being.

With Hicks' book, The Digital Writing Workshop, he gives us an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that we have the ability to allow students to work cooperatively on projects through tools at our disposal. There are an unbelievable amount of social tools embedded within traditional methods of creation, allowing for an unprecedented level of creativity, collaboration, and speed to work with. The idea of using either a wiki, a blog, or something like Google Docs is a legitimate possibility for those of whom may have to provide a larger number of projects or paper assignments.  Despite being new to some of these tools myself, I already see the benefit to being able to work on something like a Word document or PowerPoint project together with a partner who you may not be able to see outside of class due to maligned schedules. Rather than having to blitz through it during class time or to struggle over the phone, we now have tools to enable collaboration. Video messages sent back and forth showing progress on a project, using Skype chat to work together, or sharing it through blog posts back and forth can all be extremely beneficial.

While I could go into explicit detail here about the entirety of the chapter, I think I'll pass. Take a look for yourself if you haven't already at Chapter 3 of the book and see if any ideas strike you as a plausibility.


  1. I think that the ease of collaboration is probably one of the best aspects of technology in the classroom. I do find the idea of using video chats to communicate with other students rather hilarious. On the fourth day of class in one of my writing classes a member of my team was missing (it was apparent she had dropped the course). My professor, not realizing this, encouraged me to video chat with the missing member of the class to find out why she was not in class. I think it would be awkward to do something like that with a peer....maybe that's just me!

  2. I like the idea of collaboration now. I used to hate it. I remember when I was younger, we had to write papers together in a small group. That meant five people sitting at one slow computer while one person typed and the other four were extremely off task.

    Now, we can use digital media to change what group work means to the classroom. I can email the paper around, like a chain, and it can pick up ideas from different contributors. I can podcast my ideas to my group and explain to them my thought process behind a particular passage I wrote without ever actually being in the room with them. I can upload it to Google Docs. We can even write the paper by making revisions to it on a wiki.

    I don't know how everyone feels about this, but I'm sure that this new era beats sitting in the library writing a collaborative paper sentence by sentence.

  3. Yes...collaboration is now easier than ever and much less of a hassle. Like Tym I used to not like working in groups because the process never seemed to go smoothly. With new technologies such as those highlighted in Chapter 3 of Hicks, this doesn't have to be the case. For example, after being assigned to experiment with Diigo on Wednesday, I haven't stopped using it! A tool such as this would make sharing information amongst group members so easy and students can gain more from the experience.