Ice is back with a brand new invention…I loved Vanilla Ice as a kid and weirdly every time I think of collaborative learning these words pop immediately in my mind. It took me a while to disseminate why. Originally I thought the key word was collaborate, just as collaboration should be the key work in collaborative learning, but it’s not.

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The word is listen. I will admit as engrossed in the topic as I was, I couldn’t connect with it. The conversation and discussion were logical and made perfect sense. However, somehow I felt we were missing a vitally important component, that, yes we touched on but didn’t fully interrogate. But then again maybe I wasn’t listening 😉 But all jokes aside, I believe that if we want to create a truly collaborative learning experience we need to thoroughly discuss the importance of listening skills, because let’s be honest – its hard to listen online!

According to Siemens:

“Connectivism (Siemens, 2005) recognizes that in the online learning environment, seeking and constructing knowledge is most often accomplished through interaction and dialogue. ”

The key word listen is a red thread that runs through each of these separate topics: “constructing knowledge”, “interaction” and “dialogue”. The crux of this is that listening is a vital component of communication and communication is key in providing staying connected and working collaboratively. BUT – if we don’t listen we can’t communicate and transfer knowledge and we can’t connect with others.

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So, what is the role of listening in Siemens four stage continuum? Well let’s take a look at the four stage quickly:

  1. Communication
    People ‘talking,’ discussing
  2. Collaboration
    People sharing ideas and working together (occasionally sharing resources) in a loose environment
  3. Cooperation
    People doing things together, but each with his or her own purpose
  4. Community
    People striving for a common purpose” (Siemens).

If we want to get our learners to engage online we need to really understand how the learning styles translate to the digital space. Our programmes will require a complex structure that not online includes a discussion room, a webinar and some notes – we really need to take it one step further. We need to see how various learning styles are deeply rooted in digital natives and ask ourselves: what get’s them to actively listen? Is it the tasks they participate in? Is it the videos they watch? Is it the interaction with their peers? Either way, a digital native has the ability to filter through much digital noise – something a non-digital native cannot do.

In a very round about way – what I am trying to ask you is:

Would an active listening workshop for online, based on the profile of a digital native (yes -I know this requires much research) not be the starting point to truly build a collaborative learning experience?

We do it in our face-to-face environments, in the corporate world but in education we don’t seem to really hone in on it. So, I believe we are missing a fundamental step in creating a world of digital collaboration and connectivity, and that is building our learners digital listening skills.

Happy Sunday All!


Stop, Collaborate…and Listen!