Two very busy weeks on topic 3. Co-leading this topic was a little bit more work than expected and I was heavily involved in learning about collaboration and collaborating myself. 
Looking into my last blog post I ended up with being really glad that we have such a good working group with “sharing ideas/thoughts/resources”. And I was looking forward to this topic 3 on collaborative learning to learn how to work together more intensively. 
Was it a “more intensive learning” this time?
During the last two weeks in topic 3 we managed to focus and reduce our topics of interest and started discussing/collaborating on specific topics. So much more than just sharing ideas/resources. How great! 
What factors enhanced our collaborative learning experience in PBL10?
Brindley/Blaschke/Walti (2009) offer a list of practical implications on the institutional side to improve the quality of group collaboration and to increase the likelihood of student participation (besides grading!).
Many of these implications can be transferred on our collaborative work in PBL or ONL, especially worth mentioning for me are: 
  • Scaffolding/giving a framework: It cannot be taken for granted, that everybody knows how to work collaborative in group works. Our PBL facilitators managed to offer us a scaffold for learning, getting in real discussions and taking over the responsibility for our individual and group learning process. 
  • Establishing an effective learning community: During the weeks in our PBL we were able to build up a trusting relationship with each other. Building up this feeling is supported by competition-free zone: we do not need to strive for grades, reputation, prestige or even money/public or private subsidies. Another important point for building up trust and relationship are the explicit statements about everyone`s idea being valued and prevention of unreflected inappropriate criticism (like in ONL where our comments on blogs are first monitored…) 
  • Sufficient time: I really appreciate that we had sufficient time for collaborative learning activities (discussions during meeting and working on our padlet) during topic 3.

    Furthermore, I am really thankful for the opportunity working with such open-minded and creative people in our PBL10!
    Take aways from topic 3 for direct transfer in my work?
    We are in the process of restructuring the learning design of one of our part-time study programs in my department. In many 4-month lasting module students read study material, answer online questions and get feedback (both individually), work in groups on projects (project-based learning) and present solutions/concepts, etc. in-class when meeting at the end of the module.
    Etienne Wenger emphasis in his paper about Communities of practice and social learning systemsthat learning in social systems or contexts like in communities needs two elements:  

    • Participating – direct engagement in activities, conversations, reflections, ….  and 
    • constantly producing artifacts – like words, concepts, stories, documents, etc.

    Helpful ideas how to enhance student participation can be found at Cornell University/Center for Teaching Innovation.
    I think the second point is more important to be considered for our future leaning design: constantly producing artifacts. It can be very helpful for individual as well as for group work to be “forced” to submit work in short time periods. Like in ONL, where groups have to present their work every two weeks, we write individual blogs and commenting others blogs. Constantly producing …. ?
    In our PBL group we have focused on collaboration and not worked so much on the PLN. I am looking forward to read about PLN in other group works or blogs!


    Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice (pp. 179-198). Springer London.

    ONL 192 – Topic 3: Collaborative learning works!