Building your “Tribe” through Digital Literacy

As I sit here in my ENGL 304 Business Writing Class at Clemson…I watch the Team (well students) take their first test. It is 43 multiple choice answers with a discussion answer. I am thinking about how I tried to make this more of a team exercise. Well…I tried something different (at-least to me).

I had already pre-written the test and took all the questions and framed them into study questions. After doing so, I uploaded the study questions onto Google Docs where all of the class documents live. I then invited all of the team members in the class to look at the document giving them access as editors.

When we came into the class previous from the test, we had a collaborative study session. I asked them to divide into groups where each group handled one chapter from the book. I then asked them for one of the group members to use their laptops to access the study guide I invited them into, then work together to answer the questions in Google Docs with the ability to use their book and each others knowledge.

This is what is cool about Google Docs, it allows multiple individuals to access a document from different geographic locations and edit the document in real time. Each member that is online working in the document can watch other editors write in the document. This is a powerful collaborative learning tool.

As each member of each group in the class was looking for answers and updating the document, they were not only collaborating online but also verbally within a group but also between groups. Then after the class was over, they had one document that they could refer to as a study guide for the test. Over the next day, I noticed that different individuals were going into the document, refining the answers, and updating information.

WOW – DIGITAL LITERACY! Using technology to collaborate and educate not only themselves but each other. I was inspired by their buy-in. They all came into class empowered to take the test.

Now, here is the bigger picture. I love this part…they were building relationships with their team members. They were breaking down barriers and working with other people in the class they normally would not associate and building trust, building relationships. Imagine if one day these team members, these students might actually do business together outside of the educational setting. Imagine if two students in this class came together one day and were leaders in a community. These team members are our tomorrow. They will be deciding how my children (and their children) will be effected by healthcare, the economy, etc., etc., etc. Digital Literacy, Collaboration, Open Source Technology – it Empowers Our Tomorrow!

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