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Using Resources
  Prepare the Way
  What is Collaboration?
  Collaboration Tips
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  Why Collaborate?
  Practice Safety
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  Join a Project
  Design Your Own
  Develop an Idea
  Information Exchange
  Forsee Problems
  Develop Your Own

Collaborative Projects

Practice Safety and Critical Thinking
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As students begin the exciting journey of collaboration, the overall goal and objective should be curriculum oriented and should not be a personal information exchange. Collaborative project based activities should be for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information that will enhance the student's understanding of curriculum being taught in the classroom.

Students should practice two important life skills when collaborating online. These two lessons should be reviewed whenever students are using Internet resources:

  1. safe communication -- be sure not to reveal personal information
  2. information assessment -- critically evaluate whether or not the shared information is relevant to the content being studied

1. Teach Students Rules for Internet Safety

If you allow your students to create their own rules for online safety, their understanding for why these rules are important will become more internalized and make more sense to them. Here is a simple lesson plan for teaching students online safety:

A. Introduce the Lesson
  1. Explain to the students that they will be creating a classroom list of rules for using the Internet safely.
  2. As a group, brainstorm and record what they already know about safe behavior. When a student shares, be sure to have them explain why this is an important practice.
B. Research Additional Rules

This next step should be done as a cooperative learning activity. Depending on the age of the students, divide your older, intermediate age students into groups of 3-5 and keep the younger, primary elementary students as a whole group.

Have your students research and record additional safety rules they should practice using any of the following websites:

Created by Disney, this website offers a fun, interactive, but powerful message for online safety.
Yahooligans Rules for Online Safety
This simple list is a great resource that quickly identifies basic safety practices.
Police Notebook: Safety on the Internet
Published by Oklahoma University Police Department, this website offers numerous links to helpful information regarding safety on the Internet.
In an effort to put parents in the catbird seat, the Federal Trade Commission has established new rules for website operators to make sure that kids' privacy is protected while they're online. These rules are part of the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998
Read the law concerning online safety for children under 13 years of age.
C. Revise List of Classroom Rules
Have your students report to the whole group additional practices they should include. Revise and consolidate the classroom rules into an "easy to read" list.
D. Evaluate Student Knowledge

This can be done in a number of ways. Have students brainstorm with you the many ways that their knowledge and practice of online safety can be measured. Some suggestions include:

  • Each group creates a poster that displays the classroom rules (display these posters in a prominent place in your room)
  • Use a checklist to monitor and record whether or not each student is practicing these rules

Additional Resource Links to Explore

Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
This page offers additional resource links that you can explore including 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Surfing Safely on the Internet
This is a lesson plan for a summer school project that involved teaching students what the Internet is and how to use it safely.

2. Teach Students How to Critically Evaluate Information

As students gather, record, and share information, they need to critically evaluate whether or not the information they are gathering is relevant to their topic and if the information is credible.

A. Assessing the Relevancy of Information
  1. Is this information relevant to their topic?
  2. Is this the best resource available for their topic?
  3. Does it meet the criteria for sharing information if it is part of a collaborative project?
B. Assessing the Credibility of Information

"I found it on the 'net so it must be true!" is a statement voiced by many students.  The two areas that students must focus on in order to assess the credibility of the information are whether or not the information was developed by a credible source and if the content is valid.

Visit these 2 sources which will offer additional tips for assessing the credibility of the source and whether or not the content is valid and unbiased:

Assessing Credibility
Discover tips for determining the validity of content and whether the information is published by a credible source.
Search Strategies
This tutorial offers tips for constructing searches on the Internet and suggested engines to use.
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