14 – 20 March

In this third topic, we will explore aspects of collaborative learning in relation to networked online spaces for learning. To interact and learn together with peers in different formats have become an integral part of student centered education. Technology offers new possibilities for interaction, but also challenges when it comes to how different tools can be used to enhance learning in online environments. You will be encouraged to reflect on the meaning of collaborative and peer learning and the development of learning communities in relation to PBL and building personal learning networks and environments.

Activities for all learners

Check out the suggested resources below and in Diigo. You may also conduct your own search and share resources you find useful.

Discuss aspects of collaborative learning and communities in your professional context with peers in the ONL G+ Community –  and comment on each other’s contributions!

Twitter: As a part of this topic about collaborative learning and communities it fits well to learn more about and to try out Twitter. You can view Alastairs video What is Twitter? and we encourage you to make at least one tweet during the week. Remember to use the hashtag #ONL161 when tweeting.
Also join this week’s event, a tweetchat on Collaborative learning and communities on Wednesday, March 16th, 20.00 – 21.00 (CET), led by Alastair Creelman. A tweetchat is a synchronous discussion run through Twitter – good fun and worth trying! Read more and sign up on the event page.

Learning (b)log

Reflect on what collaborative learning really is and how you can use technologies to enable collaboration. Are there opportunities for further development in this area you have now identified as a result of your engagement in this topic? You may also reflect on your own Personal Learning Networks and how they could be improved. Comment and invite others to comment on your learning blog post. Share your blogpost in the ONL Google+ Community and invite others to comment. If you haven’t already added your blog address to the ONL bloglist, do so!


For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design, please see Learning activities. Choose one of the scenarios below:

Scenario 1: “Over the past year I’ve had several experiences as a learner myself on on-line programmes. From those experiences I can see how difficult it is to form learning communities and to engage in collaborative learning as a student. I feel disorientated by the range of technologies available. I’ve also been disorientated by not really understanding what is required of me when I am expected to be more self-directed and to learn together with others. Is this disorientation inevitable in online learning?”

Scenario 2: “I’m designing a new Online Masters Programme with a focus on work-based learning. In submitting the paperwork for approval I’ve had several questions about how we will ensure student engagement and build a distributed learning community. This will be a massive challenge, I think, and the big question is if students will engage and collaborate with their peers. There needs to be flexibility for students to engage but I am not sure how to do this and in the back of my mind is also the question of how much of my time is it going to take to set something like this up. How can I ensure that students really recognize the value of becoming part of a learning community and collaborate with their peers even if they don’t see each other?”

Suggested readings and resources


What is Twitter? Alastair Creelman (2014). Available here.



1. Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3). Available here.

2. Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice(pp. 179-198). Springer London. Available here.

3. Capdeferro, N., & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International review of research in open and distance learning, 13(2), 26-44. Available here.

The above suggested readings for this topic are tagged with “ONL161 topic 3 Collaborative learning and communities – suggested resource” in the ONL Diigo group.

Additional resources

ONL diigo group at https://groups.diigo.com/group/open_networked_learning

Please check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.


By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

1. discuss collaborative learning in the digital age

2. reflect on establishing learning communities in your own practice

3. reflect on how your own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) can be developed

4. inquire into collaborative learning and community features related to a specific scenario

on Collaborative learning and communities

 Read more and sign up on the event page. 

Please check your local time: