The Role of Emotions in Online Collaborative Learning

For the fourth topic, we focused our attention on the emotional determinants for online learning. By this time, our group had already built up a good rapport with each other, so we were able to discuss more openly with each other. But the last two weeks of April was a very disturbing time for me because my country, Sri Lanka was going through a terrible situation. My country was attacked by some ruthless terrorists and more than 200 innocent people were killed. We had never expected something like this! Anyway, the country is now moving forward, trying to rise from the ashes. Thus, my emotions were greatly disturbed during this crisis.  

So, emotions do indeed play a significant role in online collaborative learning processes. At the group discussions, we agreed that there are both positive and negative emotions that affect the success of online collaborative learning: confusion, frustration, boredom, curiosity, interest, eagerness, excitement, shame, guilt, etc. I think, learners usually get confused and frustrated at the beginning mainly due to technical issues and their lack of experiences in online meetings.  Learners feel bored if the topic of discussion is not interesting for them. And, if there is nothing in it for them, they find the discussions boring. But, Daniels & Stupnisky (2012) state that boredom can also result in creativity because it gives time for the learners to think, reflect and relax. Further, it results in learners feeling guilt which leads to action. And anxiety has been found out as the earliest and most commonly studied discrete emotion that disturbs collaborative learning (Daniels & Stupnisky, 2012). Moreover, some studies have found out that enjoyment in collaborative learning does not necessarily result in achievement.

If I talk about me, I was so curious at the beginning because this online discussion forum was new for me and I was so excited about meeting people from almost all parts of the world. There were certain times I felt guilty as well if I was not prepared for the discussion. Sometimes, due to the time constraints, I was unable to read anything on the topic and I was sort of blank when the others were discussing. In such circumstances, to be frank, I was guilty and embarrassed.

So as the strategies to overcome unhealthy emotions, our team agreed that there needs to be a healthy relationship among each other in the group. We also discussed that it would have been better if we had spent more time on getting to know each other. Further, we discussed that it would be better not to use many tools and applications because it could confuse the members and will raise technical issues. But I personally believe that this depends on individual goals. Specially, in a course like ONL, if the learner’s individual goal of joining the course is to get more exposure to digital tools that can be used in teaching/learning process, this approach could demotivate the learner.

And, we did not forget to evaluate ourselves throughout the course; we evaluated and compared our group work with the other groups’ work and that always motivated us to do better the next time. And I think, we always tried to do better than the previous time.

Thus, this ONL course was such a roller coaster ride for all of us. We were moving towards the end of the course, and I would say we really enjoyed our work amidst our busy schedules. This is indeed an amazing experience and thank you ONL 191 team for this beautiful experience.


Lia M. Daniels, R. H. S. (2012). Not that different in theory: Discussing the control-value theory of emotions in online learning environments. Internet and Higher Education, 15, 222–226.


6 thoughts on “The Role of Emotions in Online Collaborative Learning

  1. Thanks for an interesting post. It was good to see that even negative emotions can foster learning by leading to creativity and action. Also that negative emotions can be combated by, as was illustrated by your own group by good relations within the group, setting goals, and attending upon self-evaluation as a group.


  2. I am really glad our group decided to focus the discussions on the role of emotions. Emotions do play a significant role in learning, and as teachers we need to be aware of this, and find ways to tap into the positive and negative emotions that the class or groups may have and scaffold their learning process.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes Kiru, emotions do play a significant role because we all are humans with feelings and emotions. Even when we teach we need to understand the emotions of our students; otherwise, teaching/learning process will not be successful.


  4. Hi! What are your thoughts of the concept “academic emotions” in heterogen/totally diverse student-groups (eg Hrastinkis, 2016 research). Can this really be taught? And in a onlline education context? And if so, is there “a key element” for being “emotional present” as a teacher online and within totally diverse-student population online, according to your experience? (E.g. Hrastinski, S. & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2016). Emotional Presence in a Relationship of Inquiry: The Case of One-to-One Online Match Coaching Online Learning. Volume 20 (Issue 1).


  5. I love the pictures you have chosen for your post! The Daniels & Stupnisky study you refer to seems very interesting, about the boredom resulting in creativity. I can agree on that. Unfortunately, at least in my job today I’m so busy so there is hardly any space for boredom, and also very little time for reflection. There should be some time allocated for being bored together, maybe once a week or so. Imagine what innovations could be achieved!:)


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