Please note that I work in Saudi Arabia with female Saudi students. As such, I am not allowed to publish images of them; instead, I have used figurines in my video to represent these amazing students.
Multimedia, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking
The purpose of my action research was to find a way for my students to make the transition from being dependent on the teacher for answers to more autonomous and inquiry based learners. I was dismayed as to the students’ dependence on memorization and regurgitation for assignment purposes and their unwillingness to take risks, ask difficult questions, and be critical of their own learning practices.
I began by asking what would happen if I, as the teacher, could engage my students through the medium of technology? Would their comprehension, understanding, and retention of literature and language improve exponentially? By using a medium with which they are naturally so engrossed, would their learning experience become richer, more valuable, and, ultimately, more applicable to their modern world? Would they become critical thinkers?
Throughout the process I discovered that yes, indeed, students become more engaged with their learning when provided the opportunity to collaborate in an online environment. My target audience, young female Saudi Arabian students, do not often have opportunities to share their opinions in an open forum; for them, these online platforms provided the opportunity to contemplate their own views and to contribute in a safe online environment. I observed reluctant students providing keen insights online, while in class they may have tended to be more reticent and taciturn.
My greatest takeaway from this action research, however, is the role I must play in order for effective collaboration to take place in the classroom. The students succeeded when they had detailed and defined roles for them to play. By having pre-determined roles for their online collaborative tasks, they each needed to take equal ownership in the project and each knew the others depended on them for the group’s success. That being said, I also discovered that the success of the collaboration depended on how much autonomy the students had for the projects. By giving them such responsibility in their roles, they took even greater responsibility when they had more choices to make on how to complete the tasks I assigned. They became problem solvers, collaborators, critical thinkers.