Collaborative drawing

I’m a big fan of collaborating on drawings. I’ll bet you are too.

I’ve mentioned products here in the past.  And, perhaps your district has one installed or recommended for you.  If you don’t have one at the ready or looking for an alternative, check out Whiteboard Fox.

What appeals to me is the simplicity of getting started.

A menu appears on the left side of the screen …


Select “Draw” and away you go.

There are some options, should you want


Of course, “Sharing” is the operative feature and where the magic happens.  When you’re done, take a “Snapshot” of what you’ve created to share your final document.

For extra fun, use a tablet or a touch enabled screen or device with a pencil.

It’s as simple as that.

Challenge your students

In 5 clues…

This is a resource created by Michael Soskil and I’ll warn you right now, from personal experience, it’s a rabbit hole. A very nice rabbit hole!

It uses technology but it isn’t about technology. In fact, I could think of various ways to include technology but I think that would take away from the experience.

He calls it the “5 Clue Challenge“.

The rules?

If you are playing, simply pick a video and play it for your students.  After each clue, pause the video so that students can do a little research.  After the research, have each student take a guess.  At the end of the fifth clue, students can see how quickly they got the correct answer. The larger our collection of videos grows, the more opportunity you’ll have to expose your students to the world. 

So, the “technology” is that the videos included are done in YouTube. All that you need to do is press play and then pause after each clue. He does give you a bit of a pause but it’s not very long so keep your finger next to your mouse or trackpad. Ideally, you’ll have your computer connected to a display device and speakers for the audio.

The “real technology” involves students doing the research and the conversation that would be inspired by each of the videos and the clues contained within.

My personal rabbit hole was Animals.

Play just one and I’m sure that you’ll be hooked on the concept.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, it can really scaffold nicely; Michael encourages others to create their own 5 Clue Challenge video and share it back with him.

Imagine the power and the potential collection if classes just created and shared one video to help grow this collection.

New View on Collaboration

So, yesterday, I read the article “Watch This Author Use A Google Document To Write And Edit A Book In Real-Time“ and headed over to see what it was all about.  It was very cool and lived up to the expectations.  Silvia Hartmann was writing a book titled “The Dragon Lords” and you could watch it happen on your screen.

It was created in a Google Document here.

Admittedly, this was really taking a chance but it was all there.  Every time I went to it though, there were too many people online to get the full features but I got enough to get the idea.

What an interesting concept!  It makes you wonder about the wisdom of walled gardens.  This would be an interesting activity for students but if they’re locked behind a firewall requiring passwords/logins to their work, it just wouldn’t happen.

But imagine the opportunities for education!

Imagine the following messages going out to one’s PLN.

  • “I’m writing a lesson plan on photosynthesis online here.  If you are teaching the same thing or are an expert, please help me out.”
  • “I have an essay due next week and I need some insights on horse training.  Can anyone help me here?”
  • “I’m writing a blog post on a ‘New View on Collaboration’  Want to throw in your two cents?  Do so here.

Our traditional view of sharing involves going to a repository and giving or taking.  What if it involved co-creating with someone anywhere who might be more of an expert than you?  What if you left a Google Document open to the world, with editing permissions, and asked for some help.

What would happen?

This post is available here for you to make better.

If you do make any changes, could you let me know where you’re from?  Twitter name too if so inclined.

3:28 – 32 viewers
3:37 – 35 viewers
10:17 – 54 viewers

I use Google Docs routinely in class. I let the students have their fun the first time they experience simultaneous collaboration (writing dirty words, deleting other students’ content, etc.), but after that it becomes a serious tool they never abuse (especially after I show them I can track all revisions!).

I find that, even though they can view all other students’ work, they rarely edit or make suggestions on other students’ work, unless I specifically make it part of the assignment. Interestingly, they don’t even ask others to review their work, even though they know it’s super easy to do so.

I have also used Google Docs to collaborate on province-wide writing projects. The ability to add comments specifically directed (and emailed) to certain authors (by pre-pending + to the email address of the author) makes it a very powerful and effective tool.

Your idea about collaborating on a lesson plan is an excellent one, but it’s something that I have never seen done outside of sponsored, paying writing jobs. I have my own theories about why that is, but those thoughts are best shared over an adult beverage, not in a public document.

I believe Zoe has a public document that does not require a password to edit. Perhaps she can shed some light on her experience with that.



Last night, at the Ontario Educators’ Meetup, Ben Hazzard presented on the topic of “Connecting Teachers for Cross Classroom Collaboration”.  In the presentation, he related some of the successes that he has had with projects that involved connecting his students to others outside the school.

The concept of collaborating on a common project is a very powerful one and it works so well … provided you can find someone with the same goals and timelines as you.  But, how do you get started?

That’s where Ben’s resource “Teachers Connecting” fits into the picture.  Ben likened it to eHarmony for educators.  Come looking for your ideal match and see what happens!

A visitor to the site, after confirmed, is allowed to search through various projects and hop in.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, create your own project and hopefully others will find you.  During Ben’s presentation, I signed up for an account and the discussion did get around to perhaps professional development folks getting together to collaborate about how we might roll out activities for newly licensed OESS software.

Checking in this morning, I already have one “buddy” – Mr. SadOne.  Maybe, after knowing each other for a couple of years, we’ll finally get a chance to do something together!

So, if you’re looking for an “out of classroom experience”, take a look around Ben’s site.  Registration is required but it’s quick and easy and you’re into the good stuff.

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Two guys in Toronto

So, I’m sitting at my desk this afternoon working on documents and planning for next week’s Symposium. 

Over my left shoulder, I have Twhirl doing its thing pulling in Tweets as the day passes.  For the most part, I’m just ignoring it as it announces every couple of minutes that something new has arrived.

Then comes the special sound that indicates that there’s a reply or a direct message addressed to my attention.  That immediately gets my attention so I swing over to see what’s up.  Usually, it’s just a little chatter among some of the folks that I’ve befriended.  In this case, however, it’s a message from an acquaintance from Toronto.

He’s working on a presentation, has posted the work in process, and has invited four or five of us to take a peek and comment.  This is a nice diversion from the task at hand so I hop on over to Google documents to check it out.  It’s an interesting presentation, nicely crafted with lots of engaging graphics, and coupled with some give and take, would form the basis for a terrific presentation. 

I compliment the author and throw back a couple of suggestions for inclusion – after all, when you ask for another set of eyes, you’re looking for more than a “yep, yep, looks good to me”.

As I look over the screen, I see that it wasn’t just the original requester who was involved.  I notice on the opening slide the names of the presenters.  More importantly, I note that the two of them have the document open and are editing it as I watch. 

I start to realize that there is something special happening here.  First of all, people are actually working together and collaborating on something.  Secondly, they’re doing it online at the same time.  It is possible to do the collaboration bit in other ways – like mailing the latest revision to your partner, but here they’re both at it at the same time.  But, the third thing is a real testament to people that practice what they preach.

Not only is there the serendipity that I happened to be near a computer and connected when the request went out, but that our little network was sufficiently advanced that they felt comfortable inviting me in for a look.  I’ve chatted personally once with one of the gentlemen and about three times with the other.  But, through our actions on the network, and having discussed other things, we felt comfortable with looking at, sharing, and commenting on a work that will be presented somewhere, someday.  I don’t know when and for the purposes of this discussion, it really doesn’t matter.

I had a conversation about the same sort of thing with Paul C. of Quoteflections just the day before.  I had been commenting about the power of networking when you’re the only person teaching a subject area in your school.  In my case, I talked about Computer Science teachers.  When they head to a staff room, it’s seldom that they’re going to run into a big selection of similar minded Computer Science teacher.  They are truly the lonely runner.  How do they get feedback or ideas?

Just like today. The network, of course.

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