So, networked collaborative learning it was in topic three. Let’s untangle this a bit, we have learning here, and it’s done collaboratively and in a network. Eugene Kim from Faster than 20 immediately comes to mind. He has a lot to say on collaboration, how you do it and why. The why is a tautology: It makes sense if it makes sense. The sibling of collaboration is cooperation. There you work on a common goal, but by dividing the work. This is known to every student of mathematics: You have your weekly assignment and you divide the problems among the people in your work group and cheerio, you have just saved a ton of time. Collaborative learning has to somehow beat this simple truth. But it is much harder.

You have to acknowledge that others can help you, even though you are so great or even though you are so weak that in your well founded opinion, you are of no help to anyone. As Eugene puts it, you have to train your collaborative muscles, just as all the others. As with all things, the benefit you get from it increases with training. 
Two new terms that I learned about are the personal learning network (PNL) and social loafing. The PNL is your network of people that you interact with to help in your learning. This can take on very diverse forms and use is adjusted in topic and problem dependent ways. A course should induce you to strengthen this network.

Social loafing (deutsch: Soziales Faulenzen, ja wirklich!) is an interesting concept about group behavior: It has been observed in several experiments that individuals can take a free ride approach to group work, meaning that they loaf around and let the others do the work. This implies that assessment and monitoring of group work plays an important role.

Now, let’s put all this together in topic 4, blended learning!

ONL 3: Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning