Rural Educators Learn Tips and Best Practices to Effectively and “Radically” Collaborate

By Liz Meredith, Technology Integration Coach, Friend of the Allen Distinguished Educators program and Advocate for Educator Collaborations
November 4, 2016

As a Technology Integration Coach for a small district in southeastern Ohio, I see the importance of collaboration every day. Through technology, I create opportunities for students and teachers to connect with others. I was recently invited to present at the Rural Education National Forum on this topic that I care so much about. Being asked to present at the forum was both an honor, and another opportunity for me to help others.

More than 500 attendees from 39 states attended NREF this year. With an overarching theme of collaboration, many sessions throughout the conference highlighted best practices and successful programs. At the conference I presented two sessions as well as the closing keynote, which featured a Roadmap from the Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) award program.

My first session, entitled “Coll’app’oration,” showcased iPad apps that can be used to enhance collaboration in the classroom. I then demonstrated how teachers and students can connect with others outside their immediate vicinity by using apps like StopMotion Studio, Padlet, and Touchcast. On the second day, my session focused on a project called GlobalCOLab ( in which teachers worldwide connect their classrooms through scientific investigations and experiments. Having participated in the project for the past two years, I explained the history of the project, walked the audience through the process of participating, and discussed ideas for global collaboration topics.

Collaboration-Photo-(1).JPGFinally, my keynote addressed my own story of collaboration, having started out teaching in the city and eventually moving into rural Ohio. I compared my journey to a step stool, with each step representing a new level of collaboration as I sought to connect with my students, my coworkers, and ultimately with others around the world. Effective collaboration can be hard to achieve. Collaboration doesn’t always come easily, and should be taught. I brought more awareness to the issue by highlighting some best practices I have found to increase connectivity including a Roadmap from ADE. The ADE Roadmap featuring Radical Collaboration was an excellent visual aid to show educators what truly effective collaboration looks like, and what type of impact it can have on students and teachers. I know the audience greatly appreciated seeing such a high-quality example of professional growth.

Directly following the keynote, I received a lot of great feedback, and was asked to present at other conferences in the coming year. Events like the Rural Education Forum are essential to making connections to support and sustain teachers, and I am elated to have been a part of it. Likewise, I am excited to have discovered the Allen Distinguished Educators community, as it exemplifies what truly amazing and innovative educators are doing to make an impact in this world.


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