I have been
struggling to finding the difference between online collaborative learning and
on campus collaborative learning. Is there a difference? What is the

Brindley et
al. (2009)
examined the influence of grading on the participation in group
work in an online course, without finding any effect. Instead they concluded
that there are several issues to consider in order for collaborative learning
to take place. They formulated 10 points based on their experience:

  1. Transparency of expectations
  2. Clear instructions
  3. Appropriateness of task for group
  4. Meaning-making/relevance
  5. Motivation for participation
    embedded in course design
  6. Readiness of learners for group work
  7. Timing of group formation
  8. Respect for the autonomy of learners
  9. Monitoring and feedback
  10. Sufficient time for the task

From my
point of view none of these points is specific to the online environment. I see
these as equally important for on campus group work.

and Romero (2012)
studied the frustration among participants in groups of
an online course. The top 4 grounds for frustration was:

  • imbalance
    in the level of commitment, responsibility, and effort
  • unshared
    goals and difficulties in organization,
  • difficulties
    in communication/dialogue in terms of frequency,
  • problems
    with negotiation skills

It might be
true that these grounds for frustration is more pronounced in an online
environment, but I have for 20 years worked with these frustrations in an on-campus

et al. (2017)
studied an expert facilitator in an online course, in order
to understand how she work. They concluded that the design of the course, the
social congruence of the facilitator and the cognitive congruence of the
facilitator, along with her expert knowledge of the subject, were all important
for the students to succeed. Similar conclusions have been made for group
facilitation in on campus studies (see e.g. Chng et al. 2014). Again, I fail to
see that this is specific to the online setting.  

I think
that in the 90-ies and far into the first decade of this millennia, technical
issues, bad internet connections and unfamiliarity with the technology gave
rise to considerable problems in online courses, especially if teacher hade the
ambition to form collaborative learning groups. This really called for
rethinking pedagogic form. As these problems have become less of an issue, the
actual problems facing teachers in online and campus courses are the same, good
facilitation of collaborative learning.

Apart from
what’s apparent in the literature, timing is essential. To be able to respond
to students need for guidance in time. Here the online technology comes in
handy. An example from today. In the morning a student group in an on-campus
course contacted me and wanted to discussion an issue with their assignment.
Unfortunately, I was on the wrong campus 50 km away. Naturally, I suggested a
Zoom-meeting and their issues was sorted out in less than 10 minutes.

In conclusion I cannot find any important differences between online and campus-based education. They are the same.

Chng, E., Yew, E. H. J., & Schmidt, H. G.
(2014). To what extent do tutor-related behaviours influence student learning
in PBL? Advances in Health Sciences Education, 20(1),
5–21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-014-9503-y

Collaborative learning online or offline?