Topic 3: Learning in communities — networked collaborative learning

This topic was really cool to work on with my group as it opened up a lot of ideas in my head about creating an online course of my own.

The scenario for the week was this:

Most people I’ve come across have a rather weak idea of what it really means to learn collaboratively. Mostly, we fall back into the group-work mode from school — we divide tasks between us and glue them onto the same board when it comes to accounting of a group project. When digital tools is inserted into this equation, things tend to get even worse: if one person in the group happens to be familiar with the tool, then work lands in her/his lap. I would like to add an extra dimension to the course I’m leading by introducing collaborative elements, but how can I get people to really recognize the value of becoming part of a learning community and collaborate with their peers in a way that makes use of all the different competencies that group members bring into the work?”

So learning in online communities poses challenges just like learning communities that happen in person. However the biggest problem with online learning communities is the topic of socialisation.

During our planning stages before submitting our work, someone posted a really great quote that I think sums up what I’m trying to bring across here.

“Access to education should not mean merely access to content (which is readily available without formal enrolment with an educational provider); rather, it should mean access to a rich learning environment that provides opportunity for interaction and connectedness.”

It’s all great having great content in an LMS or online course but for someone coming to learn all alone it can be a daunting task to find motivation to complete that course without meeting and connecting with other people. Humans were created to connect with other humans and taking this aspect away in anything has consequences.

So we set out to a goal: How to successfully implement collaborative learning into your online course.

Our research was based on a 5 stage model by Gilly Salmon. The five areas were:

  1. Access and Motivation
  2. Online Socialisation
  3. Information Exchange
  4. Knowledge Construction
  5. Development

These 5 areas sum a great online course platform (or LMS).

I worked on the access and motivation section where I viewed this area of the course as the “foyer area.” It’s the first area where students will arrive and so making sure you welcome them, guide them and set their expectations will really set them up for future success during the course.

All in all, if I were to start my own online course I would use this 5 stage model as it has been used countless times in other online courses and it makes sense when you understand that human interaction and collaboration is a huge part of learning regardless of whether online or in person.

Topic 3: Learning in communities — networked collaborative learning