GSN Award Rubric
(please see official rules and FAQ)

Candidate is currently a school-based educator who teaches students from 4-19 years of age.

Candidate has conducted, produced and managed Online Shared Learning projects that have involved and benefited multiple classrooms.

Candidate Narrative
Writing Prompts (120 points total)

Evaluation Criteria
0-1: Little or no evidence; 2-4: Limited evidence; 5-7: Some evidence; 8-10: Compelling evidence

1. Shared Learning  (30 pts)

A. History (10 points): Describe your educational (and personal) background, teaching experience, and your involvement in online collaborative learning. Describe how you first became involved with online projects, and why you continued your involvement. Describe your early experiences with conducting your own projects as well as your most recent activities.

Evidence of growth, from participation in collaborative projects to planning, implementation and coordination of projects. Ongoing involvement and leadership in organizing, managing, encouraging and supporting online collaborative learning projects involving multiple K-12 classrooms.

B. Projects (10 points):

1. Provide a complete (or representative) list of projects you have planned, organized and conducted. This list should include:

  • Project dates
  • list of participants (by age/grade, number, location)
  • URL’s (if any)
  • major project learning goals
  • description of the collaboration results (e.g., any product the students may have produced, culminating discussions & conclusions, personal reflections, feedback or emails from participants or observers)
  • online media or technologies used

2. For two or more of your most successful projects listed above, describe relevant outcomes, anecdotes, lessons learned, obstacles overcome, “surprises” or other information that highlights the unique success or value of each project so described. Include descriptions or references (links) to student work or teacher support materials as appropriate, and if possible Include examples of feedback/testimonials from teachers and students.

Evidence of (A) multiple projects, or (B) large-scale projects (numbers of participants) or (C) in-depth projects (over-time and scale of artifacts produced).

Evidence that project activities promote a significant level of online collaboration among participants.  Activities are shared and reciprocal - all participants have the opportunity to create or receive a finished product or achieve the project goals.

Evidence that projects have had a broad impact involving many classes and students in diverse locations, or in-depth impact involving fewer classes and students, or both. [Impact is defined as academic and personal growth, improvement of circumstances or conditions, and other benefits observable in participants (students, teachers) as well as others (community, audience or observers, etc.).]

C. Collaboration (10 points): Describe the most effective ways (including both technologies and strategies used) that your projects have promoted collaboration among participants.

Evidence that project activities promote significant levels of effective collaboration. (E.g.,  specifics of how the project employed such things as  message boards, databases, libraries, articles, websites, tangible artifacts or displays, or other kinds of finished products that students used or exchanged to provide productive exchanges and comparisons of information, ideas, values, cultures, etc.)

2.Impact on Student Achievement (30 points)

A. Learning Requirements (10 points):  Describe how your projects have supported and enhanced the curriculum or learning objectives or standards of learning required by your school.

If appropriate in your school, please include the relevant ISTE Technology Standards for Students (

Evidence, including links to documents, that projects were well-designed to support required standards of learning, including clear statements of learning objectives and outcomes.

B.  Assessment (10 points):  Describe the methods you have used to assess the learning outcomes of your projects.  If possible, include links to project descriptions or documents that include clear statements of learning objectives and outcomes, and any assessment instruments or strategies, such as rubrics, peer review, reflective writings, discussion summaries, or other culminating activities that can provide insights into the overall impact of the project.

Evidence that projects were designed with an effective evaluation component included, including samples of evaluation tools and concrete assessment strategies.

C. Affective and Other Outcomes (10 points): Describe how your projects have typically changed or influenced your students’ attitudes or perceptions related to the subject matter of your project, and to their relationship to their distant collaborators. Include all of the other benefits and advantages that your children have experienced through this approach to learning and communicating.

Evidence of student growth, appreciation, and reflection regarding the subject matter and their participation in the project, especially as it relates to distant partners. Evidence can include feedback and reflections from students, their parents, other teachers, and others.

3. Professional Growth & Achievement (20 points)

A. Professional Impact (10 points): Describe the impact that your participation in projects and your interaction with partner teachers has had on your own teaching and professional involvement and emphasis.

Evidence of improved effectiveness, more engaged students and parents, professional and personal satisfaction. Evidence of multiple levels and aspects of collaboration within the online community and within the local community.

B. Personal Impact (10 points): Describe any impact that online collaborative learning has had on your own teaching, professional involvement and emphasis, and personal life. Also discuss different challenges you have met and overcome during your collaborative projects, or new insights and understandings you acquired.

Evidence of any personal growth or change issues or personal satisfaction attributed to online collaborative learning. Evidence of dealing with challenges and learning from the experience., including specific examples of problem solving, attitude change, growth, etc.

4. Mentoring (30 points)

A. Promoting your projects (10 points): Describe how you have promoted your projects to other educators in your country and/or abroad?

Evidence of various types of outreach to solicit participants, such as websites, articles, project registries, links, newspapers, conferences, etc.

B. Direct project assistance (10 points): Describe the methods and types of assistance you typically offer to your teacher and student participants in your projects.

Evidence of various types of project support systems, such as lesson plans, teacher discussion lists, newsletters, teacher kits, web sites, email or chat lines, etc.

C. Empowering Others (10 points): Describe how your leadership has impacted and empowered other teachers or has contributed to a better understanding of the role and power of online collaborative learning.

Evidence of professional contribution to the professional growth of others as it relates to online collaborative learning, such as

  • active participation in local, regional, national or international professional associations
  • active participation in online discussion lists or forums
  • publication (articles) in newsletters, papers, journals
  • presentations at local, regional, national, international conferences and workshops
  • web sites
  • travel
D. GSN's Role (10 points): One of GSN's goals is to help simplify your job of organizing and managing online collaborative learning (OCL) projects. Please share any brainstorms or ideas you have on these topics: a) What can GSN do to help you meet the challenges or overcome any obstacles you have encountered in conducting OCL projects? b) What new services, tools or programs do you wish GSN would provide that would make your job of organizing and conducting an OCL project easier? c) How could you work with GSN to develop and test new resources, tools or programs? Evidence of thoughtful and feasible ideas to strengthen and support teachers engaged in OCL.

Role of Testimonials

Testimonials should come from students, parents, and teachers who have been direct participants in your projects, or other adults who have been close observers and/or audiences for your projects.

The purpose of the testimonials is to provide first-hand testimony and/or evidence of the value, impact, scope and effect of your projects on participants, their audience and their community.

  • A student who learned about another culture and who became more concerned about global issues, or who had a flame of excitement for learning kindled through their participation in a project, or who had a great deal of satisfaction over the feedback from others regarding a job well-done, or……
  • A parent who observed a transformation in their student, or who was overwhelmed with the quality and maturity of the work of students, or….
  • A teacher involved in the project who shared his or her observations about the excitement, involvement, engagement in learning in their own classroom, or…
  • A principal who was able to observer the impact of a project on the quality of learning taking place in the classroom
  • A member of the community who had the opportunity to observe, participate, or otherwise look in and who can provide insights into the quality of learning taking place.

You should avoid asking for recommendations or testimonials from supervisors or distinguished figures such as superintendents who have not had the opportunity for first-hand or extended and/or in-depth observation of students and their work in your projects. We’re more interested in hearing from those who can speak from direct, first-hand experience.

While the testimonials are not scored as part of your Candidate Narrative, judges rely on testimonials to give concrete support to the effectiveness and impact of your work on the lives of those it touches. You may solicit as many testimonials as you wish. While the judges are required to review only the top nine ranked testimonials, judges report that they often rely on more testimonials to help them validate their scores on the rubric and render their final decisions regarding ranking of finalists.

  School-Based Educator

This Award seeks to recognize "classroom teachers." Thus,  a "school-based educator" works primarily with groups and classes of students, between the ages of 4-19 (in elementary/primary, middle/junior high, or high schools: primary or secondary education) in conducting collaborative online projects. This will include extensive "hands-on" interaction that includes both face-to-face as well as online involvement with students, and also includes online interaction with other teachers.

This term may also apply to librarians, media specialists, school-based technology coordinators or computer lab specialists. It may also apply to educators who work with students at more than one school, especially if they are in a small school district and/or if the educator is housed or located at one of the schools.

This definition does not apply to

  • Educators in district or regional offices who support multiple schools and/or who have limited direct interaction with students.
  • Site administrators such as principals, vice principals, counselors, etc.
  • Teachers in post-secondary, junior or community college, college and university
  • Generally speaking, educators whose job description includes conducting telecollaboration projects are not eligible for nomination. If you are not sure if this applies to you, please click here to submit an inquiry to our Help Desk and describe your primary job duties.

  Online Shared Learning

Online Shared Learning is known by several different terms:

  • telecollaboration
  • online collaborative learning
  • networked Project-Based Learning
  • multi-cultural interpersonal exchanges
  • telecomputing...  and other definitions

Online Shared Learning is a variation of project-based learning, with the added dimension of involving two or more groups or classes of students in geographically diverse locations working together. Because of distance, students use a variety of online and traditional communications media (email, CU-SeeMe, national postal services, fax, couriers (AKA "sneaker net"), etc.) in order to accomplish the shared project mission. Students exchange data, original writing, surveys, analysis and evaluation, conclusions, final reports, documents, products, and other information... including a great deal of email and other correspondence among the project participants. 

A project can be as simple as a Travel Buddy Exchange between two classes or a more complex data collection and analysis project such as the Signs of Spring Project that could involve numerous classes. Other examples can be found at the Global Schoolhouse (e.g., Projects Registry, Newsday, CyberFair and others), iEARN, and Co-nect. (Also see Virtual Architecture: Designing and Directing Curriculum-Based Projects.) It also includes projects that generate collaboration between student authors and their audience, such as CyberFair and ThinkQuest programs.

Sometimes project partners may include other members of the community, such as senior citizens, professional or scientific experts, college students, and others who may mentor or advise or otherwise make significant contributions to the project.

This definition does not include

  • Distance learning
  • Online courses
  • Webquests
  • simple pen-pal projects

Please review the Award FAQ for additional information.

 Distinguished Achievement

Nominees must be

  • teachers and other school-based educators,
  • whose primary job assignment is to directly teach and work with students between 4-19 years of age
  • and who have distinguished themselves in the area of Online Shared Learning by:
    • Planning , organizing, originating and conducting student-centered online shared learning projects with multiple classrooms
    • inspiring and assisting others to become involved in online collaborative learning by offering guidance in the form of workshops, presentations, articles, a Web site, or mentoring
    • serving a pivotal role within a school or district in promoting online collaborative learning
    • conducting other activities (both "real" and "virtual") that promote responsible applications of online communication systems
    • making important contributions to this unique style of student learning
  • Generally speaking, teachers whose job description includes conducting telecollaboration projects are not eligible for nomination. If you are not sure if this applies to you, please click here and  describe your primary job duties.

For more complete definitions of these terms, please read the official evaluation rubric and Award FAQ.