Creative Crossroads: Learning Partners Collaborate
A TCC Online Conference Presentation - April 17, 2012 by Dr. Selia Karsten
FOCUS: - Enabling student collaboration, creativity, and sharing

My goal, purpose, and objectives of this session.
- Building and sustaining communities of learners
- Instructional applications in virtual worlds
- Distance learning programs and practices

Since 2002, teachers engaged in graduate programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto have participated my online courses (Holistic Approaches to Information Technology and Foundations of Curriculum). These courses are collaborative, constructivist and student-centred.

Using simple tools, students from all parts of the globe engage in synchronous and asynchronous communication to build projects for presentation to the class. Primary goals are to enable student collaboration, creativity, and sharing. Most participants are teachers whose target learners vary considerably.

In this conference session, I focus on collaboration between learning partners as demonstrated with two online activities that display the use of effective (though not necessarily the most current) Internet tools. Students may choose whatever media they prefer for accomplishing the activity. Ill point to excerpts from completed projects. Links to selected projects will allow conference attendees to further view examples in their own time.

Activity One: Designing a blended course: Partners produce an outline, activities and projected outcomes for a proposed course. Course Design Examples to Explore include two projects online (wiki and website), other examples were submitted as Power Point presentations and have been saved as .pdf files.

Re: Activity One  -  Here are titles of some of the blended courses that have been created:

Children's Literature, Cooling and Photography, Drama Monologues, eBusiness Portfolios, Entertainment law 101, French Immersion, Intro to Impressionism, Grade 6 Literature Study, Grade 8 Career Exploration, English in a New Light, ESL Course, Entrepreneurship, International Studies, China-Canada Study, Monthly School Newspaper, Music in Practice, Power and Pedagogy, Photography and Storytelling, Running a 5 K Race, Intro to Learning Disabilities, Basketball course (Sacred Hoops), Urban Ecology, Film Studies, Flowers and Dance, Listening from the Heart, Parenting Course, POP Goes the World, All About Running, History and Culture of France, Best Foot Forward, Environment, Contemporary News, Intro to India, Shakespeare, Literacy Instruction, Active Citizenship

Examples to Explore:

A wiki version of a design for Grade 5 Science and Technology -



Van Gogh Course.pdf

The Giving Tree Unit.pdf

Activity Two: A shared reading of a biography or autobiography of a teacher in order to produce an inspired media-based review in a presentation including questions to engage class participation. A list of suggested books will be given. Book Review Examples to Explore include three Power Point Presentations.

Re: Activity Two Partners read Books about Teachers then create inspired media-based reviews in a presentation incorporatng related questions to engage class participation (link to suggested book list used in 2008 course)

Presentation Examples:

Teacher Man ReviewTeacher Man2  - Frank McCord (two pdf files)
The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch - pdf file
Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School by Samuel G. Freedman - pdf file

Concerning Collaboration

Learning Partners: A description by  Dr. John Stathakos

Partners use a variety of communication tools to aid them in their collaboration. On the BlackBoard learning management system, Group Tools such as a partner discussion board (for asynchronous notes) and file exchange (for sending drafts of the work back and forth) can be helpful. C2C (Connect to Collaborate) our virtual classroom has a Chat feature for synchronous communication useful in planning projects. I ask students to provide a sample of one of their chat logs when submitting these collaborative projects. Some students may use Skype or other chat programs. If partners use email, I ask them to keep copies to submit to demonstrate their collaborative communication skills.

There are team projects in my Holistic Aproaches to Information Technology course and the Learning Partner activity gives an added dimension to the constuctivist environment and reinforces collaborative practices.
April 2012