Looking at this ONL experience, in particular the group activities, I agree with the results of the study conducted by Capdeferro and Romero [1] on how to avoid frustration in on-line learning environments that is equivalent on how to promote collaboration (since one of the main reasons of frustration is the lack of collaboration). I think in order to promote collaboration, the teacher needs to be an active player in the collaboration process (this was another cause of frustration in [1]). I think that the role of the teacher is extremely important at the beginning to let the members of the group to socialize and let them feel part of the group. In this, the facilitators of our ONL group did the the best and immediately at the end of topic 1 we were already collaborating. I have been focusing on the role of the teacher and I have found an interesting article written by Noguera et al. [2] on the role of the facilitator. In particular I have looked into how the teacher/facilitator can enhance the engagement of the students and promote collaborative learning. I really like the article because makes things clear and shows practical points on how the teacher can enhance the community learning experience with different approaches (i.e., agile approach and scrum approach).

During the COVID-19 period, we are running a distance course (otherwise, it was supposed to be a traditional in class course). It is about the development of a solar car. One of the most productive groups, it is the energy team that I am responsible for. The project owner and then the students have decided to use a dedicated social media tool (Messenger) for discussing, setting meetings and taking quick actions. It works pretty well so far since they are more or less in continuous contact with the supervisors (Johan and me). I have found in literature that social media can boost the collaboration, for instance see Salmon et al. [3]. The use of social media of course hide some risks and as always we need to be careful, especially when it comes to privacy.

Another personal experience that resulted very well in the past in terms of collaboration and engagement was to use Facebook as platform for discussion. I used Facebook in the course “Introduction to sustainable energy systems” [4] as a platform for discussion of scientific articles. At that time I decided to use Facebook because in the previous years, I used Blackboard but there were very few interactions, then I switched to Facebook since the students are more familiar with this social media. It ended up to be much better than Blackboard in terms of interactions.


[1] Capdeferro, N., & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(2), 26-44.

[2] Noguera, I., Guerrero-Roldán, A. E., & Masó, R. (2018). Collaborative agile learning in online environments: Strategies for improving team regulation and project management. Computers & Education116, 110-129.

[3] Salmon, G., Ross, B., Pechenkina, E., & Chase, A. M. (2015). The space for social media in structured online learning. Research in Learning Technology, 23

[4] https://www.facebook.com/Introductiontosustainableenergysystems2016

Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning