Friday, February 26, 2010

It Takes A Village (and then some!)

We’ve all heard the saying… “It takes a village to raise a child” but, what exactly does that mean? This proverb is believed to have derived from African culture years and years ago. It simply alludes to a big picture ideal that learning from more than one source (other than simply ourselves!) is needed and a huge benefit all the way around. As a mom, I have come to realize that in this technological age… I have a PLN for motherhood – hundreds of resources are available for parenting, as well as age-old advice from others. Now… “It takes a village” was normally used simply within the same sentences and contexts for raising kids, but today, a “village” is smack in the middle of this technological age – aka 21st century collaboration.

For starters, Webster defines collaboration as working “jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor”. In working together, we inadvertently form villages or teams, or groups… However you want to call it, it is collective ideas, thoughts, perspectives and opinions pulled together for the purpose of learning and reaching a desired outcome or goal.

We know that collaboration is essential in the list of 21st century skills to incorporate into today’s classroom. But, what about using the village approach when it comes to the teachers/staff as well! There are many types of learning environments and resources that allude to the overall village-type community.

Let’s take a look at some specifics and define each of them.

Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s or PLN’s)

Purpose/Description: To categorize/sort teachers/staff into “working groups” geared toward a particular area of commonality, interest or field/topic area. Sole purpose? Collaborative learning!

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

Purpose/Description: Online applications used specifically for teaching and learning environments. Collaboration abounds!

Social Networks (Educational and Professional)

Social Networks are online collaborative sites for folks to gather (virtually). Discussions and tasks are based upon similarities in professions, industries, goals, etc. One of the main/major purposes is for the sharing of relevant information.

A great example of a social network with purpose…

Classroom 2.0

Classroom 2.0 is a social networking site that offers a collaborative place for those interested in Education, Web 2.0 and Social Media. Great resource! (Powered by Ning)

What are our “villages” within WS/FCS?

Learning Village Curriculum Warehouse

WSFCS Moodle (See how it works!)

WSFCS DIT Collaborative Resource Wiki

Want to learn more about collaboration/villages? Check out these two blogs for additional perspectives…

Pick a village (or two, or three…) and join. Collaboration or team-work… or village, however you choose to identify it - it has many benefits towards growth.