After I collaborated with Brian Friedlander on a proposal to present at NECC 09, I thought how essential were the tools we used in the process. Brian is in New Jersey; I'm in Massachusetts. In the past, we might have called each other on the phone to make arrangements and then emailed a Word document back and forth until we were both satisfied with the end result. How many extra hours would this process have taken? Or, conversely, we might never have thought of the idea to collaborate because it was impossible.
Instead, we used Skype and CrossLoop. Brian shared his desktop with me, we simultaneously edited the online proposal form on the NECC website and we were done in an hour.
We both remarked how well the process worked for us. We successfully and quickly created a joint three hour, hands-on BYOL proposal in one hour.
So what's the point? Are we telling our students about these collaborative tools or are we keeping them to ourselves? They facilitate our productivity, they can facilitate the productivity for our students as well. If you assign collaborative projects to your students, what is holding you back from telling them about ALL the tools at their disposal?
It's time to share the tools which promote collaboration and success. And isn't that one of the 21st century skills we are trying to instill in our students?