Golden Rules
of Project Participation

See updated original of this list... and add your own ideas... at http://www.gsn.org/contact/rules.htm Live Internet Connection Required

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We're assembling a comprehensive, up-to-date list of do's and don'ts for teachers new to online collaborative projects in order to update an article we wrote on the subject in 1990 (http://www.gsn.org/teach/articles/keys.2.success.html).

These would be guidelines to follow and pitfalls to avoid in either joining a networked project or designing your own collaborative online project.

For instance:

For Project Coordinators

  • Don't put all of your eggs in one basket:
    Plan projects that include 3-10 other classrooms. If one or two classes fail to fulfill their promises, the project can still be a success.
  • If you want to put all of your eggs in one basket:
    make sure it's a good basket - take the time to establish a relationship and trust in your partner school so that you can be confident that they won't let you down by dropping out of the project.

For Project Participants

  • Be a good egg yourself:
    Don't commit to a project (and have others count on you) unless you are sure that you have the time, the access to computer, and the knowledge to complete your part of the project.

What are some other golden rules you have identified to help make a successful project?

The following "Golden Rules" have been collected from teachers experienced in the joys and pitfalls of networked learning projects.

     

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For Project Coordinators

Name: Jean Stringer
School: St. Julie Billiart School
Country: Hamilton, Ohio, USA
For: Participant, Coordinator
Subject:  Get Enough Contact Information
Date: 7/6/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

The web started out as PEOPLE to PEOPLE and the students learned so much. Now it is People to Information...and the PEOPLE to PEOPLE gets lost. My students worked on several projects this year with other schools that did not follow through. I am sitting here looking at our Australian bear who should be in his own country and our bear should be home. I have written and written to the other school, they have just disappeared ...the project the kids put so much into is lost! So not only stress email id's if I had the snail mail address I would write snail mail and ask what happened. Maybe their connectivity is gone. I know I have her address somewhere, I just didn't think I would need it and email would always be there to ask for it again.

So my suggestion is to mention a second way to contact each other in case something goes wrong. No one minds if you can't carry through if they have a reason.


Name: Kathy Maugeri
School:
Country:
Subject: 1. Plan enough time; 2) Simple Technology; 3)Coordinate School Calendars
For: Coordinators
Date: 7/6/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

Hi...I think your suggestions are excellent!

Plan Enough Time
I would add that anything involving snail mail, like traveling buddies or quilt squares, generally takes MUCH longer than anticipated and involves lots of contact.

Simple Technology
Also, I think it is helpful not to rely on very sophisticated technology unless you are sure that everyone involved has access to the same . Lots of video components or sound files make it difficult for those with limited access.

Coordinate School Calendars
We also tend to think all schools are on the same schedule and we are not. Some schools start in August and end in May, others start in Sept and end in June, some have long winter breaks and some have school all year round. Schools south of the equator are not in session until March and have a very different schedule than we do. It helps to define timelines clearly and be aware that participation may be limited to certain countries because of scheduling.


Name: Susan Silverman
School: Clinton Avenue School, Port Jefferson Station, New York
Country: USA
Subject: Some Helpful Tips
For: Coordinators
Date: 7/6/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

  1. Have a waitlist in case somebody drops out.

  2. Let the customer know ahead of time what they will be getting. For example, if you are going to post the project on a web site have some of it ready before the project begins. I do this with all my projects and have excellent participation.

  3. Make sure you send out reminders of the deadlines. If somebody is late, send e-mail and follow up.

  4. Give your participants a way to reach you in case your e-mail is down.

  5. If you are running a project check your e-mail and answer immediately. This is very important especially for new teachers that tend to get insecure.

  6. Save yourself grief and ask for information to be sent as regular e-mail unless you have an excellent converter program.

  7. Not everybody is as technologically advanced as you are. Be there to hold their hand and invite participants to snailmail materials that you can scan for them. We want to encourage people to participate.

  8. Let the participants have a list of all the other participants. This way, people can e-mail each other and share ideas. Students also can e-mail other participants and develop online communication and word processing skills in the process.

  9. Since standards are the buzz, try to have your project objectives tie in with educational standards. Different states obviously have different standards but that is OK. They are all very similiar. Become familiar with the NETS standards and include them in your project objectives.

  10. Be a "cheerleader." Send frequent letters to the participants with updates.

I hope this helps. My PASSION is collaborative projects. I enjoy doing them more then anything else and hope to do them full time when I grow up! Check out my lastest fall collaborative project.

Pumpkin Patch
http://www.webcom.com/suealice/pumpkins/

Hope you found some of this useful!
Susan Silverman
http://members.aol.com/Clinton2nd


 

Name: Anne Macleod
School: Temple University/UAP
Country: Pennsylvania, USA
Subject: More Accessibility Sites
For: Coordinators
Date: 8/4/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

More references for making your web site accessible:

1.) http://www.rit.edu/~easi/access.html

2.) http://www.w3.org/WAI/


Name: Christiane Dufour
School: Quebec English Schools Network Resource
Country: Quebec, Canada
Subject: Other Golden Rule Resources
For: Coordinators
Date: 8/4/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

I've also put together some "Golden Rules".... not quite as condensed as your ... in an Eggshell :-)

The Quebec English Schools Network Project Center (http://www.qesn.meq.gouv.qc.ca/ssn) has a section dedicated entirely to Telecollaborations. In it, under the heading "Telecollaborative Express" (http://www.qesn.meq.gouv.qc.ca/ssn/projsubm.htm) there are a number of aspects that we delve into. For instance: What to put in your invitation ... that's where things start , ... or not! The characteristics of a good project (some of which have already been mentioned) How to nurture your project How to greet your collaborators

... and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.


Name: Sydnye S Cohen
School:
Country:
Subject: Dates and Feedback
For: Coordinators
Date: 8/4/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

If you set a date, stick to it. Teachers need to include these in their lesson plans and when someone doesn't stick to the dates originally set, it makes things difficult.

Send a note to the teacher when the project is over, both the originator of the projects and the participants like feedback on how to improve.


Name: Anne Macleod
School: Temple University/UAP
Country: Pennsylvania, USA
Subject: Website Accessibility
For: Coordinators
Date: 8/4/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

If you create a Website, be sure that the website and technology used online is universally accessible to all students- even those with various disabilities

If you need further information on designing accessible webpages or the legal citation from case law - take a look at the information given on this CD and visit the two sites already recommended.


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For Project Participants

Name: Valerie Young
School:
Country: USA
Subject: Watch How Much Weight you Send via Postal Mail
For: Participants
Date: 7/6/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

I have participated in several projects this year, all of them varied, some from hilites....mostly successful. In the middle of the school year I signed up with a school in Australia to host a travel buddy named Red Dog...no problem I thought as I had already established a great relationship with another school over there through such a project. The buddy was to arrive in the states via a New York City school and then on to Atlanta.

I knew that the package would contain a small stuffed animal and a journal...to my surprise it also contained about 8 pounds of other "stuff" - photo albums, scrapbooks, camera, etc. I was the only other school in the states to host Red Dog so I was left with the burden of sending all of these things back after his visit. As he was on a time schedule he only had about 3 days travel between places...this was fine between schools in Australia but difficult when it came to returning him to Australia.

The cost to have him shipped Air Parcel Post, which would get him there within a week, was $60.00. I paid this out of my own pocket as the end of the school year is not a good time to be asking for donations from parents. I have tried to get large companies to cooperate but again this also takes time.

Long story short.....be sure that you know FOR SURE the approximate weight/cost of an item if you agree to accept a travel buddy from overseas.

The school that had Red Dog before me even asked the host school to pay them back for the $10.00 to ship the package to Atlanta...how tacky...I wouldn't even consider that! Anyway, good lesson learned for me and for the host school. I still plan to involve my students in projects next year!


Name: Ceil Jensen
School:
Country: USA
Subject: Identify Age/Sex; Avoid Date Problems
For: Participants
Date: 7/8/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

I always like to have the teacher/students identify age as well as gender. I had a colleague think I was a guy for three months because he could not identify my first name as female. I now sign with my formal name Mrs. Cecile Marie Jensen to avoid problems.

I have each of my students introduce themselves in email with their age and gender. Grade level does not necessarily give an exact age.

Also, it is better to use dates and not holidays or seasons as a way to identify time periods. May Aussies are online and their seasons are the reverse of North America. And, Easter is about a month later in the Greek Orthodox countries.

Also, it's helpful to know the software and hardware the other class is using. It helps when preparing materials. (can you use Word or do you need to send txt)

Hope this helps,
Ceil Jensen


Name: Nancy Schubert
School: NickNacks' Telecollaborate!
Country: USA
Subject: Two Related Lists
For: Participants, Coordinators
Date: 7/9/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

I feature two such lists of tips for collaborative projects at NickNacks Telecollaborate!:

Tips for collaborative project participants: http://www1.minn.net/~schubert/NNglobal.html

Tips for collaborative project developers/coordinators: http://www1.minn.net/~schubert/LeadNet.html

Nancy Schubert
Director, NickNacks' Telecollaborate!
http://www1.minn.net/~schubert/NickNacks.html


Name: Marjan Glavac
School:
Country: Canada
Subject:
For: Participants, Coordinators
Date:

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

You should always have a backup technology, even if it's another teacher close by that can upload your work if your ISP/computer etc. crashes, goes down. (This saved me in my very first NEWSDAY project back in 1994) This may involve the physical running of a floppy disk to that good Samaritan!

I think you can't stress enough that all this takes time. For beginners, the Travel Buddy projects are low tech, high interest. For all teachers, don't take on more than you can chew! The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web is keeping me busy! Are there any places on your web site for a graphic/link of the cover? Would you like additional copies for any contests/promotions? Thanks for all the support. Really appreciate it. take care


Name: Robin K. Woods
School: The Harley School
Country: Rochester, New York, USA
Subject: Dropping Out
For: Participants
Date: 8/4/98

My_Golden_Rule_For_Projects

Here is a rule that as a project coordinator I would find to be a big help.

If despite your best planning, you find that you cannot meet the commitments of a project, please notify the project coordinator. It is far better to have a party with draw formally, then to have them simply "fade away" which the anonymous format of the Internet makes all too possible.


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