All in One or One in All?

This dilemma is what this week’s scenario has brought into my mind. First, let’s take a look;

Scenario: “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, all the members are in one group serving towards an assigned goal, while for the sake of all, one brave soul, since a little familiarity with anything goes a long way (right?) in the virtual world, is tasked with the all related tasks on her shoulders. Sounds familiar? We all have been there at times, but what would be the solution to level the playing field for all members? This is what we, as a group, decided to take on and investigate.

First things first, we had to decide on what the terms cooperation and collaboration mean. The search for a separate and meaningful definition for both took me to Oxford Dictionaries finally after I had exhausted many scholarly articles for a meaningful definition. (Actually this is very funny, because rather than going straight for a dictionary meaning, I had headed right to Google Scholar. Talk about research(ing) habits in this era!)

While collaboration is defined as the action of working with someone to produce something, cooperation is the action or process of working together to the same end.

Back to weekly ONL theme, learning in communities, why were we here? To produce something while working together or to help each other for sometime towards the same end? The answer was yes for both, but at different corresponding levels.

Yes, we wanted to collaborate since we wanted to create an artefact as the weekly end-product for ONL191, and Yes, as a part of our commitment to individual continuing professional developments, we wanted to cooperate and learn (+from) together. Later on, we have come to realize all these shared goals actually have turned each one of us into a member of a community. So, we ended up with more terms to define again. Two we have discussed about are community of inquiry and community of practice.

The CoI framework, proposed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) from Athabasca University, defines the community of inquiry as the group of individuals who engage actively to construct personal meaning and mutual understanding. On the other hand, Wenger (2011), elaborates on the community of practice by highlighting that it is actually the the self-driven team where individuals with the same concerns, goals or passions strive to do their better and learn together and from each other while interacting with each other (sounds like what we have been doing!). So, us, as the members of ONL community, are the inquiring individuals aiming to better their respective learning and teaching endeavors. While we actively try to challenge and construct our own personal meanings, the interaction has become our fuel along the way.

My favorite moment from this week’s webinar was the conversation with Ilkin. As it stands, we are the members of this ever-evolving community of inquiry & practice, but do we have to be the life-long members? Can it be an on and off thing? Since it would require a tremendous amount of dedication, we have decided not to answer this question yet. However, we’ll definitely see it through while keeping ONL as an essential element of our individual Personal Learning Networks (PNL)!



Collaboration clip art:

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from

Group 10 PBL Artefact for Topic 3

Topic’s ONL Reading List (from our course page)



  • 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). Available here. 
  • 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. Available here. 
  • Garrison, D. (2006). Online collaboration principles. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. DOI: 10. 10.24059/olj.v10i1.1768. Available here. 

Further optional

  • Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice (pp. 179-198). Springer London. Available here. 
  • Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 343-395). Athabasca university press. Available here. 
  • Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca University Press. Available here.

Topic 3: Learning in Communities