George Lucas Educational Foundation

Mesquite Elementary School

Grades 3-5 | Tucson, AZ

How Teachers Collaborate Online and in School

The Vail School District in southern Arizona developed a wiki for teachers to share lesson plans and resources. Today, the wiki is a smash hit, and textbooks are a thing of the past.
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How Teachers Collaborate Online and in School (Transcript)

Woman 1: There's distribution and--

Woman 2: Do you wanna start on that one first?

Woman 1: Yeah, we'll start on distribution. There's a water cycle website. Check out what the interactive water cycle is.

Computer voice: Water on the earth is constantly on the move. It recycles over and--

Woman 1: This is good.

Woman 3: That's nice. We could do that to introduce it, right, don't you think?

Katie Dabney: Teachers had created this wealth of resources, of lesson plans, of ideas, of different ways to teach different concepts. And we wanted to find a way where we could share those ideas with teachers from across our district, and even teachers from across the state, and hopefully beyond.

Everyone: -- is the most important thing--

Katie Dabney: So the first thing that we did is we calendared our objectives, our state standards. The second thing that we did was, we gave teachers a common plan time.

Kevin Carney: So we said, 'How can we take our process that's proven and make it kinda digitized to make it more efficient?' We took this free open source product called MindTouch and we created a collaborative Wiki.

Katie Dabney: We created what we call Beyond Textbooks, and it's an internet application where teachers can take those wonderful ideas and they can post it on a Wiki page that is dedicated to that concept and that content area.

Sarah Bates: Beyond Textbooks really helps for prep. During the week, it's my first go to thing. I know that there's always gonna be something I can depend on on there.

Woman 4: We could probably-- maybe we could white out.

Sarah Bates: Yeah, perfect.

Woman 4: And have them fill it in as they're watching.

Sarah Bates: And define it too, I'm thinking.

Kevin Carney: Not only are we able to use that for our own teachers in our districts, so that they have a central repository they can go to to find all these teacher resources, but now we've been able to allow other school districts to tap into it.

Sarah Bates: A lot of the kids will say, 'Miss Bates, did you create that? That's so cool.' And, you know, I'll have to say, 'Another teacher at another school made this. Isn't this so neat? You know, there's other kids who are able to look at this too. Other kids are learning the same thing that you are.' And then they feel a sense of connectedness to other students at our school district.

Crystal Deryke: Oh my goodness, boys and girls.

Kirsten Knox: Now they have more posts than they ever dreamed they would have. And now with all these schools joining, we're getting lots of new information from outside of the district that we've never had before.

Kevin Carney: Teaching is such an isolated endeavor. We want-- we don't want you alone on an island. We wanna let you know there's other folks out there that you can collaborate with and discuss things with and help each other, so that you can help each others' students.

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Video Credits


  • Zachary Fink


  • Mariko Nobori


  • Daniel Jarvis

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely


  • Cameron Trejo
  • Zachary Fink

Production Assistant and Audio

  • Jason Canfield

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Executive Producer

  • David Markus

Comments (4) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

NBVF's picture
Middle School science and special education teacher, San Antonio, Texas

I think teachers collaborating online is such a good idea. Developing a wiki page where teachers from anywhere can look at the content page and resources and go from there is so 21st century teaching. I like this idea.

Deanna Rupert-Wilson's picture
Deanna Rupert-Wilson
EAL Teacher at an International School in Busan, South Korea

I'm set to present to our IT committee next week about a similar idea for our school. I wasn't thinking wikis but a web resource page where teachers could post resources and collaborate as well. I think I may need to re think the prospect and consider the wiki idea! I believe wholeheartedly that collaboration is key for a school to be successful in engaging all students in their learning.

ksanto's picture
Technology Teach K - 5

You said that you were hoping to share this with other it available to me? I'm in kentucky?

monkap's picture

Hi all, I think that online collaboration is an awesome idea for teachers. Sometimes in smaller schools, you may find that you are the only teacher- teaching a particular section of a class ( eg. grade 12 chemistry). By having an online platform, teachers from across the world can tap into an online resources. I have never heard of a wiki for this form of sharing, but in my own experiences- I know that there are many great Facebook groups for teachers. I particularly enjoy using:
- Ontario Teachers- Resource and Idea Sharing
Ontario Teachers (Intermediate)- resources and idea sharing
Ontario Teachers ( High School)- resource and idea sharing

Because these groups are linked to a commonly used form of social media, I find that responses are particularly quikc and the discussions are usually rich. There is also a great place to upload and store files that are then accessible to all members in the virtual community.

Recently in one of my classes for my Professional Masters of Education with Queen's University, I had to redevelop/create a portion of an Aboriginal Education policy. One of my first recommendations is for our school board to develop an online collaborative platform where teachers from all over TDSB could click in and discuss/ brainstorm and share ideas on practices that have been helpful and successful in creating learning spaces reflective of Canada's Aboriginal cultures.

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