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.