I find this topic particularly interesting – probably the most relevant topic so far in the workshop. In my research, I focused on the differences between expectations and the potential of collaborative learning in online classes. It appears that Collaborative Learning is often seen as something desirable per se, often without questioning whether it is really conducive to learning progress. Studies, however, suggest that free collaboration – particularly in computer-assisted collaborative learning (CACL) – does not systematically show any learning effects (Dillenbourg, 2002). Apparently, one driving factor for participation is intrinsic (academic) motivation (Bart et al, 2009). Rienties and colleagues (2011) explain this with respect to the high demand for self-organization in courses with CACL. The authors suggest that intrinsic motivation is one of the key features that characterize autonomous learners (see also Chen et al, 2010). Designing a course that includes CACL, thus, has to consider how to increase the autonomy of learners and their intrinsic motivation.
It appears that one promising method is a script that guides students through the collaboration process by giving more or less detailed instructions about the steps to be taken and the different forms of interactions (Radkowitsch et al, 2020). However, it has also been reported that scaffolding in collaborative learning, while it decreases the differences between students regarding their engagement, can also lead to a decrease of activity in students who would otherwise be highly engaged (Rienties et al, 2012). Wang et al. (2017), thus recommend adaptable scripting allowing lecturers and students to adjust the scripts to their needs.
I believe this is a potential way to go and I will try to implement the suggestions promoted in the literature in the future.