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The weeks are passing quickly, and we are now half way through the course. The last two weeks have not only brought many new ideas into my mind, but also gave me the opportunity to co-lead topic 3 with Bianca from Germany.

Topic 3 was about collaborative learning, which encouraged to reflect on collaborative learning in our own group so far. Using Mentimeter, we chose to investigate three questions that are presented in the FISh guideline model;

  • How did you experience your group work? Feelings?
  • What went well? 
  • What would you like to do differently in your work ahead?

The reflection was made in between the first and the second PBL-meeting, and gave us input for the upcoming collaborative work. The first question created a word cloud that showed a lot of enthusiasm from the group members on the work so far. It was also interesting to see the “safe” and “friendly atmosphere” were part of the feelings associated with group work, something that hopefully is a sign of an inclusive learning environment that could enhance learning.

The other two questions gave us input on how we could maintain things that are functioning well, but also how the group would like to develop our work together. The group members asked for deeper discussions, more structured feedback and more commenting to better identify how our interest may overlap. Therefore, we chose to work with three more general questions that the group identified together. The references with a brief description were put into the  FISh document, whereas the discussion  based on the three questions was initiated straight away in the tool for presentation; Padlet.

All in all I think the Padlet increased the value of our group work. In our second group reflection towards the end of topic 3 , someone pointed out how interesting it is that the choice of a tool can influence the discussion in such a way. We also reflected on our work again through three more questions that hopefully also will benefit our work in topic 4.

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Since time always seem to be a restriction, me and my cofacilitator Bianca tried to structure and prepare the group work in advance in order to open up for more meaningful discussions during the meetings. We chose to work more with reflections, we suggested the tool for presentation (Padlet), and we also worked on structure of the Fish document before the group meetings, to name a few things. One could say that we have created a form of framework/scaffolds for the group to work within. Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009) argues that well planned instructional strategies that are intended to improve the group learning experience, appear to have a number of added benefits, such as helping students to achieve deeper learning and to build their confidence and skills.

Personally I think that restrictions often give room for more creativity. By being restricted within certain frames, you can focus on the content rather than the form. This is one positive thing about scaffolds and structure. However, Bianca and I also reflected on how the fact that we made decisions for the group, could affect the group work and positive atmosphere that we had created during topic 1 and 2 where everyone were more involved in choices. The need of structure and leadership needs to be balanced against the risk of making students or, in this case, group members motivation decrease due to a feeling of lack of influence.

One interesting thing that came up in our group discussion, while investigating challenges in collaborative learning, was the lack of time. Cornell University presents an interesting overview of Collaborative learning in their teaching resources, and it is quite clear that in order to create a safe social environment, to introduce the course and the expectations of how to succeed etc, time is a key ingredient.

However, time always seem to be restriction, something that our group has spent time to discuss both in the Padlet and in our meetings. It made me think about whether it is possible that the lack of time is a structural problem within educational institutions? If time is always a constraint, is it because we are not using it the right way, or is it because we changed the content without changin the framework?

I can’t help but think of Sir Ken Robinsons  lecture Changing education paradigms . Robinson claims that Education is modeled on the interests of industrialism, and that schools are organised as factory lines. There is a very vivid animation where children graduates in yearly batches, leaving an industrial building where they have been taught one subject at the time. “If you are interested in model of education you don’t start from  production line mentality.”, he says. Is that what the time restriction comes from? An old paradigm? Do we need to think differently about how much time is required for 21st Century learning and skills, instead of trying to achieve goals within an unreasonable amount of time?

I’ve truly enjoyed this topic and working together with my PBL group. My overall reflection is that collaboration takes time, not only in building necessary relationships and trust in the group and working together, but also for each individual to really take the time to profit from other group members work, (in ONL192 also from the other groups to enhance learning). However, the benefits are substantial. In topic 4 Design for online and blended learning we will look more inte course design, and I hope this will help us to understand more about the complex role of the teacher and the importance of structure that we began to explore during topic 3.  ____________________________________________________


Sir Ken Robinson Changing education paradigms (2010) 191110

Reflection on group work and collaborative learning in PBL 10
Link to results: Mentimeter 1st reflection  8th of November
Link to results: Mentimeter 2nd reflection 14-15th of November

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)

The P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning, Vision and framework for 21st Century Knowledge. 191106

Cornell University – Active Learning 191106
Cornell University – Building Inclusive Classrooms 191120
Cornell University Collaborative Learning 
Cornell University – Getting Started with Evaluating Group Work191112

From cooperation to collaboration. How reflection and choice of tool can influence the discussion.