Nurturing Global Collaboration

Cronin, Catherine and Cochrane, Thomas (2014) Nurturing Global Collaboration. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Sustaining innovation and collaboration in teaching and learning beyond short-term projects is difficult. Laurillard (2012) argues that a 21st century education system needs teachers who work collaboratively to design effective and innovative teaching, and digital technologies are the key to making that work. Building global communities of practice is one way to approach sustained collaboration. Wenger et al. (2002) identified the nurturing of communities of practice as a critical element in their sustainability, positing social media as a tool for doing this (Wenger, White, & Smith, 2009; Wenger, White, Smith, & Rowe, 2005). With the ubiquity of mobile social media in 2014, we consider communities of practice in the wider context of networked communication and networked learning in higher education. In this paper we build upon previous work of establishing a framework for utilizing mobile social media to support collaborative curriculum development focused upon redefining pedagogy across international boundaries (Cochrane et al., 2013; Cochrane & Keegan, 2012). We present and critique a case study of global collaboration in practice in higher education. The iCollab project is an international community of practice connecting students and lecturers in seven modules across seven higher education institutions, in six countries, to explore and evaluate mobile web tools, engage in participatory curriculum development, and create opportunities for students to develop international collaboration and cooperation skills. The iCollab project challenges the typical format of modules/courses/programmes which run for a set period of time, with units of assessment leading to grades; iCollab students work across cohorts, levels, institutions, countries and academic terms, using social media and mobile tools for international collaboration, multimedia production and reflective practice -- as well as exploring the creation and negotiation of digital identities. The hashtag #icollab aggregates activities and conversations across time and space (see TAGSExplorer analysis: This paper describes the inception and evolution of the iCollab project; how iCollab participants create, share and aggregate work and interact with one another; and the challenges and opportunities of openness -- particularly learning, teaching and engaging with our students in networked publics.

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