This is the fifth article of the Global Digital Citizenship in 15 Minutes series. Each part in the series focuses on the 21st Century Fluencies and Global Digital Citizenship. It shows how to explore them with your students in 15 minutes or less each day. We’ll talk about Collaboration Fluency this time around. If you missed them, here are the links to the previous instalments:
You can also download the free Collaboration Fluency QuickStart Guide as a reference.
Collaboration Fluency: Comfort in Numbers
Collaboration Fluency is team working proficiency. It’s the ability to work cooperatively with virtual and real partners. It applies to both online and offline environments. Collaboration Fluency is defined by the 5Es—Establish, Envision, Engineer, Execute, and Examine.
Today’s digital students love working in groups. It’s in their nature. They work, game, and connect online constantly. In school it’s no different. They look to their peers to collaborate and share ideas. They’re just as likely to work with students across the world as they are students in their classroom.
The essence of Collaboration Fluency is in building teams that are cohesive. A team that gels in every way is unbeatable.
Collaboration Fluency skills are a huge asset for life after school. The working world is being affected by new communication technology. One’s ability to function in teams that are both real and virtual is important.
Henry Ford said it best. Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
Introducing Collaboration Fluency to Students
These exercises are great for introducing Collaboration Fluency. They’re fun, engaging, and really get students working together.
Paper Tower: This is an exercise we use in keynote presentations. It’s a fun collaborative team-building project. Each group constructs a free-standing tower out of newspaper and tape. There isn’t a time limit for this exercise unless you want to set one.
This encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. Which team can build the tallest, structurally sound free-standing tower? In the process, students will realize they have questions they didn’t ask. Get them to explore how to answer these questions as a team.
Class Obstacle Course: This is an exercise for building communication and trust. The idea here is to arrange an obstacle course and divide students into teams. Students then take turns navigating the course. One or two people go in blindfolded with only their teammates to guide them.
As an added challenge, you can restrict students to using specific words. You can also limit directional dialogue. For example, students can’t say “go left” or “go right.” Instead they can only say things like “pick your foot up, put it down, reach out,” and so on.
Messenger Game: This is a communication and critical listening exercise. It’s also known as “Pass it On.” Divide the students into two groups. Each group will form a line. The person in front is given a verbal message the others can’t hear.
Each student has to relay the message correctly to the student behind them in the line. It’s always whispered into the receiver’s ear so no one else can hear. The last person recites the message given by the person ahead of them. The goal is to get the original message relayed down the line with no changes.
Approaching Collaboration Fluency as Daily Lessons
Each phase of Collaboration Fluency can be studied as a mini-lesson. This can help students develop an understanding of its process. You can do this over a few days. Devote a bit of time to letting students explore each phase. You can use the resources chosen for each one below.
This phase is about establishing the group. Team roles, responsibilities, and guidelines are established. The scope of the project is identified and examined. Leadership figures are also appointed here. Establishing also includes committing to a group contract.
- Berkeley HR has these steps for how to build and effective team.
- Mind Tools has some great team-building exercises to test out.
- Check out Teampedia, the collaborative encyclopedia for team-building.
Next, the group defines and examines their purpose and the challenge they face. They visualize a preferred solution or goal. They also develop an agreement on the outcome and the criteria for evaluating it.
Envision mirrors the first stage of Solution Fluency, which is about defining the problem. In visualizing the desired outcome, the team uses the Dream phase. Specifying information needs is also part of Envisioning. Students look at what they have and discuss what’s missing.
There’s a split focus placed on envisioning an outcome and the processes that achieve it. As with all Fluencies, this is always a cyclical process. As their understanding evolves, students will revisit previous stages and learn new things.
- The Practical Leader talks about the No. 1 leadership task as envisioning the goal.
- Try these workshop exercises for goal-setting and envisioning.
In this stage the team engineers a workable plan for moving forward. This means defining all the steps to get from where they are to their goal. It involves delegating responsibilities to each team member. It’s important to pinpoint each team member’s strengths for the next phases.
The team plan should be designed to be flexible. It is usually checked, discussed and re-evaluated on an ongoing basis. This goes back to the cyclical nature of the Fluencies.
- How to Write a Work Plan
- Check out these steps for developing an “action plan” from ActionCOACH.
- Tidyforms and Free Planner Templates both have action planning templates that will help students understand the process.
Now the team has to put the plan into action. This is done with the goal of developing a tangible and viable solution or product. The best methods of executing a plan utilize the individual strengths of the various members. These were discovered back in the Engineering phase.
- Here are some tips on how to monitor and review a strategic plan of action.
- Use this list of key questions for evaluating the implementation of a plan.
- Here’s some good guidance on how to get the most out of every member on a team.
Examine involves the team looking back at the process. They determine if their challenge was met and if their goals were achieved. They pinpoint areas for improvement and recognize contributions. Constructive feedback is given in this stage as well. Of course, this can also happen throughout all other phases at any time.
- Consult this article on giving constructive feedback for some Examine discussion tips.
- Harvard Business Review offers a great explanation of an effective team debrief.
- Michelle Cummings has this great resource for debriefing tactics that work well for student teams.