The purpose of this paper is to analyse a platform called GlobalSchoolNet
The purpose of this paper is to analyse a platform called GlobalSchoolNet.org (GNS), which has been developing telecollaboration projects for more than 30 years, in order to deepen understanding of how telecollaboration projects work and establish meaningful concepts that can be used to design similar projects.
How telecollaboration is understood
Today’s students have access to the information just with one click, and connect to people from every corner of the world (Prensky 2001). Similarly, telecollaboration makes learners perceive education as an independent and autonomous learning process in which it is possible to use digital technologies to enhance their language learning skills and intercultural communication competences in order to share and create knowledge with other students around the world (O’Dowd 2013).
How can a telecollaboration project be implemented?
Different models to develop efficient telecollaboration projects have been designed (Salmon 2002; Helm and Guth’s 2010), which can be synthesized in three progressive dimensions:
• the operational dimension which makes reference to familiarity that learners must have with the tools implemented and the participants of the project;
• the cultural dimension which refers to the interaction with other members and knowledge of the content to be implemented;
• the critical dimension that has to do with the ability to evaluate critically perspective, practices and product of the members’ culture
That said, the success of telecollaborative projects is not based on having students connected to their online partners but on scaffolding their learning throughout different stages (Dooly 2008).
What is Global School Net?
GNS is an organization that provides a variety of platforms that engage educators and students from 194 different countries to work in content-driven projects based on a constructivist learning model.
What are the objectives of GNS?
The objective of GNS may vary according to the project; from creating material and encourage better communication between different educational communities, to investigate content that learners will compare or contrast with their own context or culture, or to simply promote interaction with local students and teachers in different countries using their native language.
Does GNS fit telecollaboration aims?
As can be seen GNS’s main purpose is to help teachers and students find collaborative learning partners and appropriate projects, which involve different subjects and disciplines, by implementing different types of technologies such as emails, live text conference, document sharing; discussion forums, etc.
At first glance it appears that all projects are based on “constructing” knowledge together, which is one of the main objectives of telecollaboration, nevertheless it cannot be identified whether learners help each other to learn or they work together to get a specific result or end product (Dooly 2008); either way, it is certain that GNS gives learners an opportunity to build knowledge based on what they already know, create content, and compare their own cultures through the interaction with their online partners (Helm ; Guth 2010). All of the previous elements can be found within the telecollaboration framework.
As stated by Dooly et al (2008) “finding online partners for our learners is not enough, it is necessary to find activities that motivate them to share their points of view for the purpose of generating reactions and/or responses and construct knowledge through this process”. GNS’s website provides information about the type of collaboration that each project conducts, for instance, information exchange, pooled data analysis; intercultural exchange, global classroom, etc; despite the fact that there is not any evidence to suggest how these kinds of collaboration can build effective partnership or what elements of intercultural communicative competences are developed, it can be seen that GNS’s projects are not merely connecting students but they encourage them to be active and build knowledge through this interaction.
How are GNS’s project implemented?
GNS constantly states that “it engages youth in project-based, online learning activities that stimulate individual creativity, teach communication skills, foster collaboration, and increase global understanding.” Although the previous idea may be true, it is not easy to find solid proof of what elements of ICC are developed, how many stages there are in each project, or what role the teacher have when carrying out its project.
What tools are implemented in GNS?
GNS states that successful online collaborative learning requires the right tools, reliable partners, effective implementation strategies and appropriate content when carrying out its projects. it can be assumed that teachers and students need to explore the tools in early stages of the project to find out the advantages and disadvantages of their implementation; besides, it seems that this organization is aware that the partners need to build good relationships and teachers or instructors need to guide learners in the tasks proposed.
In summary, GSN creates content, encourages online communication between different educational communities in order to compare or contrast specific content with learners’ context or culture. Despite the fact that it is not clear if collaboration or cooperation are the based on its projects, both approach are coherent with its constructivist point of view of.
Additionally, based on the basic information that is provided in GSN’s site, it is difficult to find out the stages in each project and the role of intercultural competence, relevant elements in the successful implementation in telecollaborative projects. It may be necessary to be member of the one of the projects to discover all the benefits of its services and learn from their experience.