Miri Shonfeld is the head of the Technology, Education, and Cultural Diversity (TEC) Center at MOFET Institute and a faculty member in the Education department at Kibbutzim College of Education in Tel-Aviv.
The issue I would like to stress here is the connection between online collaboration and digital agency (DA). While digital environments "shrink" the world and allow us to work collaboratively with colleagues from different cultures and countries, DA in education promotes equity in learning in a global world. Anyone who is not on board will be left behind.
At Edusummit 2017, DA was defined as “the individual’s ability to control and adapt to a digital world consisting of digital competence, digital confidence and digital accountability” (Passey, Shonfeld, Appleby, Judge, Saito, & Smits, 2018).
People who possess digital mastery, confidence, and accountability can become part of the collaborative world. They can access any digital platform, search for relevant information, and locate the best team for their mission. Owing to their accountability, they are aware of the opportunities and dangers on the net. They know how to find good partners and are aware of the routes that lead to cyber wellness. This is not a future reality of online collaborative society. This is our present life, and we as teacher educators have to lead our students toward this goal. International organizations and local authorities should spend time and resources on furnishing all students with the necessary skills in order to promote collaboration in education.
This is the reason for publishing my new book on collaboration in the global world (Shonfeld, & Gibson, 2019) The book itself is a collaborative effort with David Gibson from Curtin university in Australia and myself as editors. Most chapters were written by co-authors from Israel and other countries. The book offers examples of implementing teamwork, especially in higher education. These examples show that this is not an easy task, and its methodology must be learned and practiced. Collaborative learning is not new, but it assumes new dimensions in the digital world. One of the examples is the TEC Model.
The TEC Model
Models of online collaborative learning (OCL) are increasing in schools as well as in colleges of education (Harasim, 2012). Higher education, where research is based on teamwork, is also progressing in terms of team projects with collaborating universities. However, this approach is not yet fully assimilated in all Higher Education Institutions. Pioneers of OCL may still have to work hard to “spread the word”. My students work with peers from other institutions in Israel, Texas USA, and Germany. Based on the TEC model, they work in small groups.
The TEC Center at The MOFET Institute and the Kibbutzim College in Israel is an example of a model where technology, education, and cultural diversity intersect to improve learning through innovative pedagogy on the one hand and technology on the other.
Moreover, it exposes students to cultures they have never encountered before on an equal footing and opens their minds to others whilst calling their attention to the advantages of a heterogeneous group during the development of educational products. The TEC Center is a leader in the use of technology to support cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding.
Its collaborative learning model is based on advanced technologies for preservice teachers, in-service teachers, and pupils from different ethnic groups and religions, yielding constructive dialogue and cooperation, and, eventually, tolerance and mutual respect. One of the ways to participate in those experiences is in the annual TEC international day when all are invited to take part in various activities and presentations that are translated simultaneously to English Arabic and Hebrew.
Harasim, L. (2012). Learning theory and online technologies. Routledge.
Passey, D., Shonfeld, M., Appleby, L., Judge, M., Saito, T., & Smits, A. (2018). Digital Agency: Empowering Equity in and through Education. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 23(3), 425-439.
Shonfeld, M. & Gibson, D. (Eds.). (2019). Collaborative Learning in a Global World. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.