Chapter 4, Communication, focuses on the need to develop the “techno-personal skills”, the online habits, which sustain online collaboration and networking. For me, some key ideas from this chapter relate to the nature of online communication tools, and some handy ideas for efficient, inclusive communication between teachers and students involved in global collaboration.
While I was originally going to focus this post on ways we could improve the #globalclassroom handshakes, I’m going to jump ahead a little, and write about something I learned today (relating to Chapters 4 and 5).
Today, I invited a teacher from the Middle East to join an upcoming #globalclassroom project. A little later, I became concerned that involvement in this project might inadvertently place this teacher in a difficult situation … relating to the volatile political situation in the region.
Sadly, I was correct.
We talked about the issue, and our teacher decided to decline the invitation.
I was disappointed, but relieved that I hadn’t put my friend at potential risk.
I had learned a valuable lesson
When we collaborate globally, our ignorance of cultural and religious differences can have dramatic, unintended consequences in the lives of real people, in the real world.
We need to learn about, and be sensitive to difference. Yes, this seems obvious, but is so much harder in practice – as we “don’t know what we don’t know”.
This is why I believe it so critical to have open, public and private communication channels for global collaborative projects, and why it is so essential to build trusting, respectful relationships with the teachers you work with.
We need to create the space for people to talk and get to know each-other. I have personally learned so much about other people through mindless conversations about our lives and families – via Skype IM and Twitter conversations. These conversations usually occur in private mediums, and help to build mutual trust and respect. This means that when potential issues arise, when we are not sure about something, we feel more confident in asking for clarification behind the scenes.
As teachers, we can’t teach our students to be ‘culturally aware’ if we don’t understand, and model this awareness ourselves.
You don’t realise what this means until you’ve experienced it first-hand. It truly seems the more I learn, the less I know.
So, looking ahead …
I hope, over time to get to know my friend a little better. If permissible, I’d love to just chat about our work & life from time to time … I know so little about her culture, work, and way of life. If not, I hope she can at least point me in the right direction.