“Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting”.
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
I was able to experience this in all our webinars and PBL group meetings. It is such an exciting experience because everyone comes there to learn from each other. Everyone has something to share. I remember, at certain times, we all did not have the same perspective, and it is truly interesting to look at something in some other person’s point of view which you had never even thought of. Another aspect that adds value to this nice collaborative experience is the fact that we all are from different countries; that means different cultures. I was the only one from Sri Lanka and my colleagues were from various parts of the world such as Sweden, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Singapore, etc.
Once I remember, we were discussing the frustrations we had at the beginning in terms of online collaborative learning. For me, I was frustrated the days I was not prepared for the meetings. Also, at the very beginning I did not want to be very open because I did not know the others personally. I was scared that being too open might result in misunderstandings. But later, we sort of discussed openly even our weaknesses because we were able to build up an open and relaxed platform for discussions.
As Johnson et al. (1990) suggests, there are five basic elements in collaborative learning: clearly perceived positive interdependence, considerable interaction, individual accountability and personal responsibility, social skills, and group self-evaluating. I believe our group had these elements, at least to a certain extent. There was freedom for each and every one of us to express ourselves; so, I believe we were able to engage in successful and constructive discussions. We evaluated our work regularly. I admit that there were certain times that I failed in terms of personal responsibility. It was so difficult for me to manage my time; so, there were times I did not attend meetings even without prior notice. And I also understood that almost everyone in our group were so busy, and most of them, I would say, struggled with finding time.
Another study I found on online collaborative learning was Ku et al.’s study (2012) that discusses three collaborative factors based on learners’ perspectives. They are team dynamics, team acquaintance and instructor support. In our PBL group, I believe, all these collaborative factors were involved. We had a dynamic team, very supportive facilitator and co-facilitator, and of course we got acquainted well with each other (though not very much at the very beginning). Therefore, I could say that our group had a very effective learning platform where unhampered participation resulted in learning.
Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Stanne, M.B. & Garibaldi, A. (1990). Impact of group processing on achievement in cooperative groups. J Soc Psycho, 130 (4), pp.507-516.
Ku, H., Tseng, H.W., Akarasriworn, C. (2012). Collaboration factors, teamwork satisfaction, and student attitudes toward online collaborative learning. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29, pp. 922-929.
One thought on “Online Collaborative Learning”
great reflection, Piyumi. It is nice to see how you not only provide a good summary of five basic elements of collaborative learning and linked it your own group’s collaboration on PBL work and meetings