Yesterday I promised that I would continue the discussion about some of the collateral effects that the simulated 1:1 environment has created in my LAPIS classroom. As I noted, the students quickly realized the potential of the social aspect but they also began to pick up on some of the other more important collaborative tools at their disposal.
We've been using Google Docs since the start of the program to keep their Character Sheets, Operative Dossiers (grade sheets), and their Carta Collectionis. For the most part, all of those items were individual pieces of information shared between individual students and myself so they weren't viewed as a real collaborative tool. Something interesting happened after, on the fly, I created documents for the teams to share with the .jpg image of the inscription that they were working on deciphering. For the first time the students saw how instantaneously a collaborative experience could unfold. They also saw how, in an instant, four of them could be working on the same document trying to figure out the meaning behind a very cryptic (albeit fake) inscription. Believe me, if you want to see true bewilderment on the eyes of teenagers that have never been exposed to a lot of these tools, watch what happens when they can see three other people typing in a document simultaneously. It blows their minds.
So within a few days of that exercise (and it was very successful to get them working both face-to-face and digitally at the same time) a few of them starting making 'class notes' documents, and color coded spreadsheets with noun endings and verb forms. Then they began to ask the best question that students can possibly ask: "How can I share this with so-and-so?" And then came the realization that they could share with everyone in the class. They also realized that they could start more collaborative documents with their teammates to work through difficult sections together or sketch out ideas. It was amazing to see them figuring out new ways to use this brand new magical power. Again, we forget that without any guidance at any stage in their careers, these students don't know how to utilize or harness this untapped power in front of their noses. But to stress the above, the most amazing thing is that after they discovered how to start using it as a personal organizer (like any old notebook), their next thought was how they could share what they created with their classmates. Incredible.
Something so foreign in just a few days became so natural. Within a few short weeks, a group of Latin I students took another big step in empowering themselves with tools to further their learning experience. I wish that I had the resources to provide this kind of experience with all of my classes.