Several months ago I noticed a new follower on my class blog. After clicking on the profile I learned this new follower was a high school Earth Science teacher instructing in content similar to my own. Naturally, I became a follower of his class blog. A few days later I had a new friend request on Facebook from my new blog follower. His request contained a detailed message being sure to help me understand who he was and why he was requesting friendship. I accepted friendship and our professional relationship has grown from there. We've shared ideas, resources, and other bits and pieces of information that has helped me grow into a stronger Earth Science teacher. The power of the internet!
Soon our students (High School and 8th Grade) were interested in each other and we started talking about the possibility of collaborating on a joint project between our two schools. With Earth Day approaching, we decided on an Earth Day Presentation using Google Docs. The North Carolina - Colorado Collaboration Project was started. Students were divided into groups of four (one North Carolina student, two Colorado students and a project manager.) Three students would actually work on the project, the fourth would be the project manager who also was in charge of managing the work of two additional groups. The addition of the project manager (pm) was due to the disproportionate numbers between the two schools and ended up being a blessing in disguise. They are doing a tremendous job tracking student work and offering great support throughout the project.
So far, the lessons the students are learning are HUGE. Collaboration across time zones, even when the time differential is only two hours, is a difficult obstacle to overcome when communication toward a common goal is required. Email and document etiquette lessons are learned daily. Students learn first hand how easily tone can be misunderstood or misconstrued. Reaching consensus with strangers requires flexibility and understanding. Before the class period ends, students have learned more lessons in communication then they have all year again emphasizing the power of the internet.