The importance of collaboration is empathized and talked much about in today´s university world. I hear it in all sorts of settings, from our own vice chancellor to the Swedish Higher Education Authority. With digitalization, and especially during the Covid 19, collaboration has truly entered the online teaching as well. With Covid 19 I also think there is a realization that we are all in this together. We need each other. Locally and globally. This also gives us an opportunity to make big leaps when it comes to collaborative online teaching as all teachers have been “forced” to go online. I think the essay by Arundhati Roy puts a lot in perspective, where she writes:  Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. […] We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.’

Even if she is talking about the political and social aspects of lives, I think there is a lot to be inspired in our day to day lives, including our lives as working professional and in this blog, online collaborative learning. Universities have always contributed to teaching students the art of reflection and critical thinking and I think technology can help us reach out to students around the world, and thereby expanding their insights and knowledge about differences in all kinds of issues, including culture, diversity, sustainability etc. Technology can be powerfully effective in supporting this collaborative learning. Online collaborative learning can be defined as learning processes based on computer-mediated interactions between members of a (virtual) learning community (Bates, 2019)

The (technological) shift to online learning and to have everyone onboard in the universities would most probably have taken years and has now instead taken weeks. I am just astounded by how teachers at my institution really took the transfer seriously and did the best they could. Also, the amount of support the university and the online communities gave in regard to tips and tricks in online learning and online collaborative learning. We must be aware of the enormous effort that all teachers have put down during a very limited time frame to convert from offline campus courses to online courses, and that just transferring a course from a campus setting to an online setting is to simplify the challenges that this move entails. Now, we teachers need time to learn about the differences and similarities in order to make the most of online collaborative learning. Online collaborative learning has different challenges than face-to-face learning. For example, emotional cues and informal conversations is more difficult to achieve in an online setting (Stockleben et al., 2017). Substitutes for both are needed to build a successful online team. There are for example breakout rooms that can be used to reduce the number of students so that they can engage in reflective learning and a more collaborative work. There are also a lot of creative methods that work online as long as everyone is familiar with working online (a learning curve for the ones being involved).

I am excited to be part of this change and see the need for me to learn more about how to better achieve the collaborative aspect of online learning. There’s never a dull moment in life. 


Bates, A.W. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age – Second Edition. Vancouver, B.C.: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/teachinginadigitalagev2.

Roy, A. (2020)  The pandemic is a portal. In Financial Times – https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

Stockleben, B., Thayne, M., Jäminki, S., Haukijärvi, I., Mavengere, N. B., Demirbilek, M., & Ruohonen, M. (2017). Towards a framework for creative online collaboration: A research on challenges and context. Education and Information Technologies22(2), 575-597.

Online collaborative learning – exciting times