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It's a small world after all!

(previous section) Disney probably couldn't imagine how small the world really was when they chose this now famous ritornello. More than ever, the Internet is bringing down […]

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Disney probably couldn't imagine how small the world really was when they chose this now famous ritornello. More than ever, the Internet is breaking down borders and allowing collaborations that were impossible to imagine even yesterday.

A dozen years ago, the site Prof-Inet was becoming a precursor of telecollaboration. Its objective: to connect teachers from all over the planet (especially in the French-speaking world) in order to allow remote projects to be carried out. There are currently more than a hundred projects, some proposed by teachers and others by organizations. Another site, Skype for the Classroom (in English) offers more than 1,400, including a few in French.

Despite the proliferation of online tools, email correspondence between students remains one of the most frequent collaborations. In recent years, this is the path that Marie-Luce Dion, a teacher at Bernard-Gariepy high school in Sorel, has chosen to take. She was inspired by a project found on the Internet to offer students in her class (and another elsewhere in the world!) The exchange of ten emails on ten different themes. “I work with students who have learning and behavioral difficulties. Having specific questions to answer helps them a lot in structuring their writing. It also allows them to discover another culture, a new country and even learn about their own province, because the questions are quite precise! »She notices that the fact of writing to someone in" flesh and blood "who will answer them is very motivating for them.

Occasionally, the experience continues at home. “Sometimes young people chat with each other and they are very excited to be able to do so. But in class, I limit myself to exchanging emails and photos, ”notes Ms. Dion.

Projects

However, telecollaboration can go much further. For example, the Images and Heritage project aims to “constitute an inventory of forgotten, secret, private heritage, enlightened by the participating classes”. All this information is then accessible via an interactive map!

Another project, The day I was born, aims to make the pupils of small historians who will discover, then share, what was happening in the world on the day of their birth.

In the footsteps of Eratosthenes aims to measure the circumference of the earth as the Greek scholar did more than 2000 years ago, all while interacting with classes from all over the world.

For its part, the project Skype mystery aims to bring two classes into contact by Skype so that the pupils discover, with different clues, the city where the other group is located. Others use this same software to practice their English!

Teachers can very well set up their own project. For it to be successful, it should have clear objectives, be simple in terms of communication, include well-defined tasks, offer concrete results, meet the needs of the participating classes and be able to be completed even if one loses a participant, specifies a file on the telecollaboration of the École branchée.

Challenges

However, everything is not easy in the realm of telecollaboration. The technical skills of teachers and the availability of equipment are sometimes lacking. In addition, access to certain sites is sometimes complicated. “In Quebec school boards, in general, the level of security is very high. Sometimes, for several good reasons, we block access to social networks. So when you want to use them, you have to request them, have special permissions, etc. It's not insurmountable, but you have to think about it, ”says Céline Loslier, responsible for the Prof-Inet site at the Commission scolaire de Laval.

It is also necessary to take into account the fact that in Africa, for example, several schools do not yet have access to high speed Internet, which greatly limits the possibilities of telecollaboration.

Nevertheless, Prof-Inet plans to get into new media. “We are in the process of setting up an action plan and we will perhaps conduct a survey among users to validate interest in social media, because they seem to me to be an interesting avenue,” says Ms. Loslier. The innovations may start next year. "

Other telecollaboration sites:

GlobalSchoolNet.org (in English)

iEarn

To read more

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About the Author

Nathalie Côté
Nathalie Cote
Nathalie is a journalist. His favorite themes are family, education, health, consumption, the environment and social phenomena. She contributes in particular to the newspaper La Presse.

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