It has been whirlwind of activities for me on the professional, and personal front over the past month or so, making it a lot more challenging for me to keep up with my ONL work. But with the support of my group members and facilitators, I kept at it and I am where I am now, thankfully. Huge thanks to Elaine and David for the support!

For Topic 3, we discussed collaborative learning – something
that proved to be really challenging for our group, as some of our members had
to drop out due to personal reasons, and our conflicting schedules.

However in that very challenging situation, we all learnt a
very valuable lesson – that as facilitators, we may sometimes need to be
creative and flexible in order to support our learners. Given the changes to
the make-up of our group, and inevitably the group dynamics, we had to re-state
some of the ground rules and re-state our expectations of each other. It was a
necessary step in the right direction. We worked through our presentation and
submitted our work, ready to face Topic 4.

While looking over the material for Topic 4, I also took a
step back and revisited some of the reference material. The notion that “Teaching
presence is an essential unifying element in online learning due to its
asynchronous and text-based form of communication.” (Garrison, 2006) resonates
with me, especially as I help my colleagues develop digital assets (specially
designed online lessons that go beyond recorded lectures) for their blended
programmes. As I work with the various stakeholders, the challenge that I
sometimes face is the misguided notion that creating these digital assets is a
simple process of converting Powerpoint slides into an animated presentation,
and slapping the lecturer’s voice over that animated presentation. If only life
were so simple.

The decision to offer blended learning courses isn’t to be
taken lightly. A quick review of the literature attests to the fact that is
challenging, and it is hard work. So why do it? My short answer is this – we cannot
afford not to, especially since creating sustained learning communities is one
of the main goals for higher education. The technology is there to support
communities that transcends boundaries, why not utilise that same technology to
create and nurture communities of inquiry?

It will require a change in mind set. It will take you out
of your comfort zone, it will challenge the traditional notion of teaching and
learning, and yes it will leave you frustrated, but really, we cannot afford
not to take the plunge.

For those of us doing the ONL course, we are already part of
the CoI that seeks to learn collaboratively. We seek best practices, we share
success stories, as much as we share our frustrations. We then take what we’ve
collaboratively learnt here, to our own corners of the world and try to spread
the word. There is still much to be done in this respect, and the battle will
be an uphill one, but I think it’s a battle worth fighting. As we fight the
good fight, we must always remind ourselves to elevate cooperation to collaboration.

For me personally, I shall always have the CoI framework in
mind as I create more learning networks among my esteemed colleagues and the
people I have met doing the ONL course. There is still very much to learn and
that learning can never stop. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to beat some people
over the head so they can distinguish between cooperation and collaboration!


PLNs Theory and Practice by Kay Oddone: Part 1 & Part 2

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).

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.

Garrison, D. (2006). Online
collaboration principles. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks
. DOI:
10. 10.24059/olj.v10i1.1768.

Cooperation vs Collaboration: Spot the difference