“Everyone knows that when students leave school and start working, they will be asked to work in teams with others, and not be asked to work in rows, thinking on their own and having tests on their own. In real life, people are asked to work in teams.” – Ann S. Michaelsen, Norway

For Daily Edventures alum Ann Sorum Michaelsen, using technology and social media in her classroom is second nature. She has been a champion of computers in school since 2002, and was instrumental in implementing the Skillsoft Learning Management System (LMS) in her county’s 34 schools. She is a regular presenter on innovative education, and is a strong proponent of global collaboration. How does a teacher who is already leading the way in education take her students to the next level of cooperative 21st century learning? She writes a book with them.

“Writing a book with 27 students is a great adventure and I personally have learned so much from this,” says Michaelsen. “First of all, since I participate in many conferences and engage in conversations online, I wanted to test out some of the theories of learning in the 21st century. I wanted to challenge keynote speakers who talk about engaging students and promoting a creative environment in the classroom. Could it be done with 27 students? Would we get everyone aboard? The result has for me been amazing.”

The book, Connected Learners: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Global Classroom, is proof that it can be done, and Michaelsen and her students are hoping more teachers and students will collaborate on books as a result. “The idea was to find a topic that everyone could relate to,” says Michaelsen. “The class was already using blogging as their learning tool and we were not using traditional textbooks. Writing about using technology to learn was interesting and not something they had thought about before. Most teachers never ask the students how they want to learn and what they want to learn. The goal is to share the way we have arranged our classroom and offer an easy guide for teachers and students who want to try this.”

You can read all about the process of creating the book in the class’s blog. The book is priced at $4.94, and the students are saving the money for a fieldtrip to visit some of the students they have been collaborating with.

I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Michaelsen.

What significant event(s) have taken place in your professional life since we last heard from you?

It’s almost a year since I was featured in Daily Edventures. This year I have been teaching a group of first-year high school students in English for the first time. Instead of doing individual projects, the students agreed to write a book together with me as an in-depth project this year. I thought it would be a great challenge to see if everyone in the class would participate and be engaged.  As a result of this year’s hard work, the book was published on May 21st and we are really proud of the result.

What is the most significant change in the world of education you’ve observed in the last year? Why?

I can’t say that I have seen any significant change in the world of education. Seems to me the same people are talking about change, but not much is happening in the classrooms. Too many teachers and students continue being traditional in their teaching and learning.

What are you most encouraged about in education right now?

More and more schools are equipped with computers and it is a lot easier to connect. Last Tuesday we Skyped with students in China and Lesotho on the same day. As connected learners we are able to connect with many countries in the world. This is the new way of learning and sharing knowledge, to get a deeper understanding of what is going on in the world. I hope more teachers will try this with their students, as well.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

We used OneNote and Skydrive to write our book. We used Twitter to communicate and we had teams of students who had different responsibilities. We had four project leaders and chapter editors for each chapter. We had students who made the videos for us and we had guest writers from Norway and Alaska. We have Skyped with experts from Florida and the university in Norway. In addition we had educators and students from many different countries write to us and give us advice. All is included in our book. I think most of the 21st century skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation are included in this project. We like to think we are the first in the world to write a book as a student/teacher collaboration!

Where do you see your professional path taking you next?

I hope I will be able to help other educators become connected learners with their students, and I hope the book will inspire more to try this. We cover topics like: preparing your classroom, seven steps to connect, gaming to learn, digital literacy, assessment end tools and websites.  I will never go back to leading a traditional teacher driven classroom, and I hope to encourage more educators to join me! Working in a student-centered environment is fun, rewarding and you learn something new every day! Trust your students to excel and you will be surprised!

About Ann Sorum Michaelsen

  • Name: Ann Michaelsen
  • Job title: Administrator with pedagogical development for my school as a main focus area. And I am an English teacher as well.
  • Birthplace: Wisconsin, USA
  • Current residence: Oslo, Norway
  • Education: English teacher and I have a Master in School Leadership
  • Website I check every day: Many. I use Scoop.it to collect news I’m interested in. My scoop.it page is called “connected educator.” That is my passion, to stay connected and learn from others.
  • Person who inspires me most: I have been fortunate to be able to invite great educators who have inspired me these last four years to speak at our conference in Norway. I can mention Will Richardson, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Richard DeLorenzo, Ewan McIntosh, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann.
  • Favorite childhood memory: My first years in the USA, I moved to Norway when I was six.
  • Your favorite quote or motto:
 Favorite quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”- African proverb.  I need to remind myself that together we are so much smarter than alone. That is why I like to share and learn from others. Motto from Apollo 13: “Failure is not an option!” Dangerous but inspiring. Because to use new technology you need to fail many times. But in the end I like to think I succeed. And failure is not an option when it comes to students’ education.


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