Global Collaboration: Final Reflections
With our Global Collaboration Project, we were trying to create an educational, informative web space to teach the public about ocean conservation and the importance of recycling efforts, which you can view here. I definitely think we achieved that goal, though we didn’t go into quite as much depth as I might have liked us to have.
Our group was divided into 2 UNI students and 2 RRC students. We seem to have come from fairly different backgrounds. Some of us were maybe more tech-involved, others were more experienced in instruction. It helped that we were all familiar with secondary education.
We had some communication issues in the beginning, and as a result the project was decided by just two of us at the beginning, and later agreed upon by the rest of the group. We ended up having issues splitting the work as well, but wound up letting each group mate pitch something they were interested in with ocean conservation, and they would end up being responsible for that part of the work. To research, we set about exploring different government and educational webpages and reaching out to experts to ask questions. The only developmental tools we ended up using was the website, and so we created a Google Site that was shared among the group so everyone could begin to collaborate. We had to scramble a bit at the end, and two of us ended up really finalizing the project at the end and ensuring everything was completed in time and in the right spots.
We used WhatsApp to communicate, and I think that’s a great collaborative tool! It allows you to use it with just your phone number and talk to people from anywhere in the world without using your actual phone plan, so there were no long-distance charges. I could definitely see myself using that again!
I think our group’s biggest success was pulling through after a couple of weeks with no communication and putting together a well-done, well-researched project! Everyone finally getting on the same page communication-wise is what led to that success.
Communication was our biggest challenge. We eventually overcame it, but it was a struggle. In all honesty, our group didn’t handle it well but I don’t think there was anything I could have done differently. Multiple communication attempts were made on my (and my partner’s) part. The only thing we might have done differently was reach out to our partnering school’s professor earlier, but that didn’t feel like it was my place to do, and I reported to my own professor first.
Overall, global collaboration was pretty hard on my end. I wasn’t entirely happy with the end project, and I spent the beginning part of the project unsure if I had partners. Despite all of these struggles, though, I appreciated the experience. I learned so much about myself and working with a more challenging group. Most of my group projects, I just take the lead and tend to railroad my partner a bit more than I mean to. This was the first group project I’ve really had where I couldn’t do that, and it was an important lesson for me to learn that this was a characteristic of myself, and to learn how to balance that with input from others. It was also useful for me to see all of the kinks that can come out of a project like this.
If I did this sort of project with my students, I’d organize it through a website (because I’m obsessed with making them and have a website for everything). I think it would be structurally easier to look at and organize, and easier to make sure all students from both schools can access it. This website is something I’d want to announce earlier in the semester to both classes, so they know a project like this is coming up. Organizationally, I’d spread the project out a little bit to account for the issues that might come up. I’d want to dedicate at least two weeks to the planning stage, where students have time to get to know each other and make some plans. I’d have a fairly structured form or assignment I’d want them to fill out as a group to force them to talk if the group had cold feet. I think getting to know your partners right away is a huge part of success in a project like this.
There area lot of features I’d definitely keep the same as well that were a big positive for me in this project! For example, having UNESCO objectives were great (though I’d personally rather that be an option). I would keep the Canadian partnership. It gave a global feel but kept the timezones and culture easier to work with. I’d also keep the blogging requirement (though I’d be more strict on it from the other school’s side), because I think writing about the process is a huge part of it!
The biggest change I’d personally make when doing a GCP myself would be to plan meeting times. I would have loved to see more than one Zoom meeting with both classes scheduled during classtime. I know how difficult it is, but if we managed it once in the beginning, we probably could have one more time. Because my partners missed the initial meeting, we never got to meet them, and I believe that was the biggest contributor to the communication issues. Having two of these in-person meetings, however, would have forced a bit of communication between us, and aided things along (unless they missed both meetings).