Collaborative learning: myth, dream, utopia or reality?

Nowadays, to learn together with coursemates using different forms and tools, including digital, has become an integral part of student centered education. Collaborative learning is often an essential part of online education.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

Online courses offer a lot of opportunities to use contemporary teaching methods and realize pedagogical ideas aiming to enhance student’s learning. There is no doubt that teaching and learning happen in a very social environment where interaction plays an important role.
For my courses I would like to create an effective collaborative learning (CL) environment. Can I find a good example of collaboration? Can I collaborate myself? Where? When? How?

Being student I was exposed only to face-to-face interaction with teachers and other students. We were often sitting together with group-mates trying to understand lecture material and solving exercises, i.e. our learning happened in a highly developed social learning environment. Was it enough for a successful CL? Could we collaborate and acquire knowledge online in the same way? Kearsley (2000) points out that people have little training in how to successfully interact/work with others, and social environment of online-activities are quite different from face-to-face interactions.

Participating in ONL191, I see that this course is a good example of CL and opportunity to gain experience in collaboration.

During this course we are going through the 5-stage model which was developed by Prof G. Salmon (Salmon, 2013) and is a useful tool to design online courses, experiencing all the challenges at each stage. Of course, we are all experienced learners and highly motivated 🙂 Yet, there are a lot of things we learned: new digital tools for communication and making presentations, new pedagogical stuff and a lot of new concepts. I personally discovered a whole world of e-learning that has been very appealing for me for a while but I didn’t dare to start my jorney alone.

Is it easy for me to manage ONL191? 🙂 Looking at the Iceberg of illusion, I recognize myself fighting in the Deep Dark … The most difficult is to keep self-discipline! But we are a wonderful team of entusiastic learners with skilled moderators, and we can construct jointly the knowledge! So, we are at Stage 5 now… Soon it is time float to the surface!!!

Cheers
Tatjana

References

Kearsley (2000). Online Education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Salmon, G. (2013). E-tivities: The key to active online learning (2nd ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

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