There is a logical trajectory on this ONL211 course, where we began with the initial journey into open networked learning, the challenges related to open access and now in topic 3, how those already on the network collaborate. One of the articles that we looked into highlighted the frustration that people experience — for various reasons (Capdeferro &Romero, 2012). What we were meant to investigate was more than overcoming that frustration however, it was about the age old problem of group work, collaboration. Collaboration here is not defined as individuals doing their separate parts for a project then piecing it together, and then not so the pieces dovetail together to give you a big picture (as miro board for example can give the illusion of with its patchwork of colourful post-its), but when the separate minds work together towards a common goal and have a significant part to play in how the final product looks. This is something that our group managed to achieve in our last project presentation — and the process is not too difficult. Together we brainstorm on the topic and decide how best to present what we have learnt. And then we go our separate ways to construct the sections of that grand design, after which we come back to fit those pieces into the final product.

Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

We also looked at the Personal Learning Network (PLN) theory described by Kay Oddone and effective collaborative learning (Brindley et al, 2009) and as a group unpacked what we learnt on Perusall (introduced by Christian, a veritable resource of tech platforms), particularly noting the dissonance between social networks and the non-social networks that were blurring Oddone’s focus and map. Personal learning networks have existed since the beginning of time, however what distinguishes the networks we have now is that they take into consideration digital affordances of our present context. When combined with the social collaboration that results from these networks of learning then a new arena of knowledge building opens up. If we were to collate these with what has come before then the boundaries become vague and we lose clarity with what is distinct and new, and in essence adds to what has come before.

The theory of connectivism (Siemens, 2004), on the other hand, struck me as one particularly relevant to how information is consumed and knowledge is produced in the digital age, and I will be reflecting further to understand how it functions. Small coincidence that I just attended his talk late last year organized by ALSET at NUS.


Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).

Capdeferro, N. & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International review of research in open and distance learning, 13(2), 26-44.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2.

The Topic 3 Blog: Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning