“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

At a glance one can denote that the needs and expectations of current day learners have changed dramatically. Learning communities,are both physical and digital connections. In South Africa the cost of education is getting higher, alas learners are also learning through new models that are increasingly more accessible.

In our ONL group discussion we had a robust debate on the definition of a Personal Learning Network. Each one of us has our own Personal Learning Network which is a source where we can learn new information and keep up to date with the latest developments. Thus it is a connected learning environment that is unique to the individual.

In my ONL211 group despite distance or time differences we were able to freely collaborative using online tools such as Padlet, Jam board, Miro board, Canva World and Google Docs. Our ONL211 open network platform allowed us to engage in collaborative learning in communities beyond borders.

There are many similarities with collaborative vs cooperative learning but these are unique concepts in their own right. In cooperative learning, participants are responsible for using their knowledge and resources to make sure that all team members understand the concepts that they are learning. With cooperative learning the success of the project task depends on all of the interconnected roles supporting each other, but there is a facilitator overseeing the project closely. Whereas in collaborative learning, participants take responsibility for their team learning yet their roles are left up to them.

In cooperative learning the task is divided in such a way that members work more or less concurrently on different aspects of a project, whereas in collaborative learning the task is divided in a way that members work together more or less sequentially on different aspects of a project (Dillenbourg, 1999).

Currently in higher education the struggle is how do we achieve this collaborative learning. With readvancement of technology and the popularity of online courses, one denotes that digital literacy may hinder some learners participation. Thus, teachers play an integral role in designing the courses and activities to foster a collaborative and active participation of the students.

These days, learning is done through a multitude of content, example videos, blogs, podcasts which are all openly available. Without a doubt technological advances have enabled the expansions of our own personal learning network beyond our daily circle.
We need to change the mindset and start looking at students as lifelong learners and equipping them with future work skills

Dillenbourg, P. (1999). Collaborative Learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. Advances in Learning and Instruction Series. New York, NY: Elsevier Science, Inc.

The Power of Community– networked collaborative learning