Students should be close in age, though not necessarily the same grade. Teachers who choose to participate should strongly consider the commitment and amount of time required to make the collaborative effort successful. This will depend on the collaboration design and the complexity of the project. It’s always a good idea to start with something small and manageable, working up to more complex projects once you’ve had some experience. Your class will represent your school, your home country, and the OLPC program. A well-developed lesson plan and follow through are key elements to success.
When designing a collaborative project, the general educational guidelines design principles still apply. Consider the learning objectives and defined outcomes of your project as you apply each of the following design principles.
Constructionism – How does your collaborative project help the students construct new knowledge based on prior knowledge? Does it give the children time to explore the content independently and in groups?
Collaboration – Consider the collaborative elements of your project. How often will the students collaborate with others in the local classroom? How often with students from the partner classes?
Iteration and Constructive Critique – How will you know when the students have met your collaboration project goals and objectives? Your design should allow for enough back and forth communication to solidify those goals and objectives.
Adaptability and Localization – Language and connectivity environments are crucial considerations in the planning process. Collaborative activities are easier when there is Internet connectivity. However, there are other ways to communicate. Try to design a project that is adaptable to varying levels of network connectivity.
Mobility – Try to take advantage of the mobility of the laptop computers. Consider projects that require outdoor or community exploration.
Transparency – Language will be a challenge to the success of your collaborative project. Try to be creative when designing your lesson and communication points. Consider projects that are more visual in nature. Once partnered with a school or class, learn as much as you can about the language constraints and what steps can be taken to overcome them. Depending upon the language, you may be able to use online translators. However, be assured that the message can sometimes get lost in the translation.