Ben Davis' post about Bubbl.us sent me to the site. I threw it out to my students to see how it would work. When my students first began to use Bubbl.us they used it mainly for vocabulary or to organize their own thoughts around an idea. After a few days, a student commented that it would be nice if everyone could see her “bubble” without having to add everyone as friends. Great, now we learn to embed code. I had a couple of students embed their bubbles into our class wiki. I then required them to collaborate with others by creating a small group with write access privileges. At first the excitement was high. Seeing the embedded diagrams was a thrill to these middle schoolers. But soon, nervousness crept in. “If I add them, I can turn it off whenever I want, right?” or they would say to each other, “can so-and-so be trusted?”.

So there it was, ownership, of the sole-proprietor variety. This was a little surprising to me as my students do group work nearly everyday and share credit for many achievements with their group mates often. There were two differences in this case.

First of all, the products (bubbles) were started alone in the mind of one student. Second, when I asked students to add collaborators, I told them to add kids not in their current class. I would like to say that this was a well calculated scaffold leading eventually to outside collaboration but it was simply a fortunate circumstance. Bubbl.us diagrams cannot be edited synchronously so to me it seemed to be easiest to have students from different classes work as collaborators.

Now the comfort zone has been broken. I love days like this! These kids are out in the open, unsure of what will happen next. Do we enter into the thinking process differently when we engage in group work? Are we more open, or more reserved? Are the goals the same? Will someone change the way my bubble is created? The bubble is my thinking, will that change me? Am I ok with that?

Tags: ideamaps

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Your observations are spot on. When using Web 2.0 tools, student personas are challenged . A smart student fears looking dumb and the opposite is also true. Rather than look dumb or smart, students opt for appearing lazy. In kidthink, your collaborative assignment challenges who they are as learners. Inadvertently, you hit on an excellent solution. Collaboration outside of the class. This allows for individual class hierarchy to continue but offers an opportunity to modify self perception. The concern is still present with a less immediate impact.
I teach in an alternative high school, students may not have a place to sleep or food to eat yet they are connected through cell phones. Their social power comes from the cell phone. Computers, technological knowledge and interfacing with digital applications represent the need for depth and a certain knowledge of outcome. My students rarely demonstrate the confidence to search for depth in learning.

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