Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 12(4), 343-354.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This paper describes an action research project in the preparatory school English classroom of first author. She described how she used a social networking platform to allow for collaboration with a preservice teacher in the hopes of making student literary analysis more authentic for her high school seniors.
Web 2.0 tools can be used to expose more students to a community that guides them through the shift to college discourse. The implications of this partnership are explored within this project.
Planning the Community
The authors used the social software Ning, specifically a free educational Ning Mini (available only in the United States).
Three aspects are important to define before embarking on a Ning, or other social networking, community: text, technology, and the collaborating members of the group.
The text used in this action research project was William Shakespeare’s Othello. A study of any engaging and challenging text works for this type of collaboration.
The Technology- Ning allowed students to scroll through threaded discussions, a feature crucial for the reading development to be fostered in high school students.
The writing collaboration available through Ning’s blogs and forums in one user-friendly interface is another advantage. The blogs allow students to post their writing to receive feedback from all members, and the forums allow students to post their research and explore what others have found. Both the blog and forum within the Ning allow students to achieve the level of writing professors across disciplines look for.
The social collaboration on Ning deepens writing instruction through the complexity that comes from interaction with many viewpoints, the chance to share and integrate research findings, and the constant inducement to write to engage readers.
The third piece is to make the connection between the high school students and at least one preservice teacher. Ultimately, a high school class needs only one preservice teacher—as long as the preservice teacher has the hours to give.
Because this project can be tied easily into teacher preparation coursework, the time is not an issue once the partnership between the university and secondary classroom has been established.
This collaborative network became a community of three made up of the preservice teacher, the cooperating teaching mentor, and the teacher educator that supported the learning about teaching in the English classroom as the authors worked to find and develop best practice in academic community building among a community of students.
This collaboration of scholarship benefits the students in the immediate nature of feedback, the varied voices offered, and in the authenticity of task, better preparing them for academic life after high school. Considering that Nings make communities possible across countless miles, the possibilities seem endless. A level of accessibility is present when teaching with this technological tool that makes this type of collaboration almost effortless. It blends the line between teacher and student roles.