These last weeks we have been addressing the topic 3 of the Open Networked Learning course, being the focus on (online) collaboration. My reflections refer to three aspects: collaborative learning in action, my Personal Learning Networks and the use of technology.
Collaborative learning in action
Although collaborative learning activities were designed in my Degree in Education, teacher design does not necessarily equal to students’ learning. “One cannot design their learning. Only the person who is learning can learn” (Goodyear & Dimitriadis, 2013, p. 2), and definitely what it was learnt in those activities was not collaboration. Collaborative works in my degree at the university were mostly group works where some members expected that others do the work for them. Unfortunately this was my usual experience at that level, and because I did not want to fail the assignments, I finished often doing all the group work and I always preferred to do individual work.
However, some collaborative learning experiences in my two (online) Master degrees and in my professional activity changed my view about collaborative learning. I think that collaborative learning involves much more work than individual work but has indeed a powerful value for teamwork skills and opening up to new perspectives and ideas. Both of the assignments at the Master level in which I felt that collaborative learning did actually take place involved the development of a collaborative document in GoogleDocs and synchronous communication for the discussion of the different versions of the document. Although working in the shared document was useful by itself, especially when using the comments’ function, discussing it together at a point when it is advanced was really enriching to understand the ideas of the others and to move further with the aspects where issues needed to be discussed. In addition, the group members with whom I was more in contact for discussing the activity are now a highly valuable part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).
This also applies to some collaborative work in research and teaching during my professional activity. Especially, collaboration in research is something that I enjoy doing when the team works equally and ideas and perspectives about the work done are discussed, which brings new insights into the study.
The work in our PBL group within the ONL201 course is another good example of the implementation of collaborative learning
My Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and the use of technology
I feel that my PLN has been growing ever since I started my first Master degree and my professional activity in 2010. One of the first things I did when I joined the research team at my previous university affiliation was to create a Twitter account. All the researchers of the team used it for professional purposes, being the main researcher – which was also my Master and PhD supervisor – and other direct colleagues quite active. I am quite grateful for this, since it made me indeed start developing my PLN as professional in my field and understand the power of Twitter for PLN (Castañeda, Costa & Torres-Kompen, 2011) and since then I have been using it. Being from the field of educational technology, we have also been bringing these ideas to our students, who always thought at first that Twitter was somewhere to waste time and had no educational or professional potential. In addition, part of my research is connected to the use of Twitter for the purpose of building and maintaining PLN.
Therefore, I am positive that the use of Twitter, but also other social media services (Weisgerber & Butler, 2011), empowers the development of PLN in terms of communities, but especially in terms of networks (Oddone, 2019). Important considerations are that each one curates who to follow, pays attention to his/her followers, engage in conversations through channels/hashtags, etc., and devise strategies to manage information within and across the services.
Castañeda, L., Costa, C., & Torres-Kompen, R. (2011). The Madhouse of ideas: stories about networking and learning with twitter. Proceedings of the The PLE Conference 2011, 10th – 12th July 2011. Southampton, UK.
Goodyear, P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2013). In medias res: reframing design for learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21, 1–13. doi:10.3402/rlt.v21i0.19909
Oddone, K. (2019). PLNs Theory and Practice part 2. Youtube video. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqSBTr9DPH8&feature=youtu.be
Weisgerber, C. & Butler, S. (2011). Social Media as a Professional Development Tool: using Blogs, Microblogs, and Social Bookmarks to Create Personal Learning Networks. In C. Wankel (Ed.), Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media (Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education, Vol. 3, pp. 339-363). Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley. doi:10.1108/S2044-9968(2011)0000003020