The use of virtual spaces in international collective knowledge building projects for teacher professional development
Rafael Benlliure, Pere Boluda, Frank Sabaté and Josefa Sánchez, Departament d’Educació, Catalonia (Spain)
The COMconèixer-KBIP project is an international educational cooperation project between Catalunya, Quebec and Toronto (Canada) and Hong Kong (China); other countries, such as Portugal, Norway and Mexico also participate. The project aims at innovating in the knowledge co-building and creation developed by primary and secondary pupils, as well as in the knowledge developed by induction and in- service teachers, university researchers, experts in quantitative and qualitative assessment and evaluation, and experts in international educational cooperative projects. Using innovative tools and collaborative methodology allow the participants to become the agents who design and develop their own projects. One of the aims of the project is to incorporate ICT strategies, tools and resources in the management of learning.
The COMconèixer-KBIP community works on-line, which eludes the traditional geographical and time constraints. The Internet and the use of commication tools such as videoconferencing, facilitate participation in local as well as in international activities from anywhere at any time. This technology allows ubiquity and adds to rigor and depth in professional development, while providing accessibility and continuity.
These technological tools are very valuable support in order to develop international cooperation and facilitate the construction of a net of knowledge building community nets, going from a first period of inicial education to the subsequent more advanced periods of international implementation with innovating results at all levels.
The approach of collaboration among the participating teachers deals with different virtual spaces and levels of activities.
Knowledge Forum (KF©) is a virtual space specially devoted to the professional development of the participants involved in the project; it allows the building-on and the exchange of experiences as well as the development of competences to implement the project methodology . KF enables the development of an interactive common base established in the centres of the participating countries. KF was created by University of Toronto researchers Marlene Scardamaglia and Carl Bereiter.
These spaces are a key element of international professional development cooperation for teachers, teacher educators and assessors to discuss the methodologies and strategies developed. Innovative assessment and evaluation tools, such as ATK (Analysis Tool Kit) are included.
Other tools available at web 2.0 (videoconfences VIA, e-mail, Skype, msn, etc) are also used for this international coordination. They are essential to coordinate the key matters in the project, to agree on the agenda from different locations and, mostly, to present the working and results of the project.