Now that I have a little more distance from our collaborative projects, I have even more thoughts and reflections. I think Nikki and I both learned a lot from asking others to engage in collaboration (whether they knew it or not). I found myself constantly having to explain different aspects of collaboration as my students worked, especially regarding the type of communication that should happen when collaborating with others. This communication between group members became one of the most important things for my students to learn and improve upon during this process. In the beginning, many of their disagreements and problems resulted from poor communication with eachother and lack of compromise. As they moved on, there was a noticeable change in language that indicated they were making an effort to consider the ideas of others.
One of my classes that participated in this project has recurring behavior problems and therefore became the subject of a staff meeting this past week. As teachers and faculty sat together discussing what to do about with this group of students, I was told that maybe I should not do any more collaborative projects with them. The reasoning given was that these students "were not ready for it." I was disappointed and I disagreed. The fact that I had seen improvement was reason enough for the project, even if there were some stressful moments. The communication and compromise inherent in collaborative work are important skills to learn, especially for these students. If they are never asked to do it, then how will they learn?
In comparing the experiences that Nikki and I had, I think one of the most interesting differences was student's behavior. Nikki's group seemed to have less problems working together than mine, and I think age could be a big factor. Overall, both groups produced some interesting artwork. If I were more adept with sound technology, I think it would have been more inline with our original presentation ideas to emphasize specific soundbites so that we could present the experience more through the audio in addition to the work. Personally, I got a lot out of listening to the audio, but might have been more effective if it were edited down for others.
Anyway...I'm glad we tackled this project and am excited to move on to a different type of collaboration.