Last month I wrote about some of the collaborative projects that are emerging in education. A number have emerged that enable students to work together with their peers from other schools around the world. With research showing that Gen Y, whilst very comfortable with social tools, are not comfortable using them for professional purposes, this has wider implications.
Whilst students are seeing real benefits from this approach though, what about teachers? A new study by UNC Charlotte has set out to explore the benefits when teachers collaborate with their peers.
The paper reveals that whilst many schools have tapped into social media to help foster better links with their local communities, very few have utilised it for enabling collaboration between teachers, be it for planning lessons or discussing the needs of students.
"A troubling finding from our study is that the majority of students are not studying in schools where teachers work together and where teachers feel that they are part of professional learning communities," said study author Stephanie Moller, a faculty member in the Department of Sociology. "African American students are less likely than white and Hispanic students to study in these schools, despite the fact that they benefit the most from studying in such schools."
The study found that when teachers exist in a collaborative environment, maths scores increase, and also the range of grades between students is reduced.
"The path toward developing these environments in our schools is not without obstacles," Moller said. "School leaders require a supportive district that provides resources for professional development while also allowing teachers time to work collaboratively. Leadership must also work to obtain teacher buy-in, as a forced community is rarely productive."
The following is a nice video about how teachers are collaborating online. Worth a watch if you're in the education profession.