During this weeks when we have worked with this topic, our group have had very interesting discussions related to both cooperation and collaboration and with those as a starting point, I want to start by defining these two concepts; Cooperation: The process of working together to the same end. Collaboration: The action of working with someone to produce or create something. For me as a teacher I find it very important to think and reflect on these two concept when I plan a course and specific course tasks. In practice collaboration is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. The students must understand the value of collaboration and networking and from that the process, how, when, where and why they work together must be clear. It is my responsibility and task as a teacher to give the students the best presumptions so they can collaborate. Based on my experience, there are some factors that are important to relate to and think about to get a collaboration online that works and develops students’ knowledge and skills. In the beginning of the collaboration it must be clear for the students when it comes to guidelines and rules it must be clear. When I think about guidelines I think both of the design and implementation of the task, and especially in this case on group composition and what expectations and requirements are placed on the students in the current assignment or examination. This must be clear so that the students can get started on the work and focus on the learning linked to the assignment and not practical details. When the students know the task it is important for them to know how they should be divided into groups and be a team and start with the work for a determined time.
Then we come into the collaboration. Human abilities / knowledge are developed through social interactions between people, which is the basis of socio-cultural theory. It is through the social and cultural context that knowledge acquisition takes place and thus individual development also takes place. In today’s society, there is also a great focus on lifelong learning as the labor market has changed and that we live in a changing world at a high pace, which requires increased knowledge. Today’s society also requires that we, as individuals, have control and are active in our own learning.
Back to important factors that are crucial for successful collaboration online. The first factor is communication between the peers and between the students and the teacher. The basis of collaboration is also that there is an openness and willingness to participate. That all group members want and are open to presenting different types of knowledge, mixed with both theoretical and practical knowledge in order to create a personal feeling. Posts that you make as a member of the group should have a critical attitude towards theoretical knowledge. The writing that the students do should be reflective. During group work, it is also important that the communication tone is humble. Another factor that is important is that the students who write invite each other to dialogue with their own posts. Advantage is also if the posts written during the work can be a little personal. Another thing is also that the text is a mixture of text and speech, not too academically correct. When the students collaborate online it is also important to give them information and conditions during the process. One part of that is the students opportunity to share tips, discuss topics and provide feedback online it can be for example on Facebook, Twitter; You Tube or Instagram. In order for collaboration online to work as well is my experience and it is also described in the research that it is important to have a group leader through the collaboration. This person have the function to take the control over the topic and the task. As a group leader you must also manage the group so the group dynamic is good. It is important that everyone in the group become leader at least one time. During the process and to get the work moving forward it is important for the group members to give and take feedback. Reneland & Fornas (2011) described that one part which is important in the collaboration between students is that they have opportunities during the process to think, discuss and reflect both on their on and together. I agree with that my experience is that if the students have time to this things I as a teacher can also see in the end production and when I talk with the students that they have learn from each other and have had a fruitful discussion during the process. My experiences is also if as I have described previously have a good structure, communication with the students and that they feel that they have a freedom and autonomy. Collaboration online allows students to collaborate in a flexible way based on when, where and how they want. Which can be very good, it can give more opportunities to study based on lifelong learning and that they can take advantage of their experiences and wishes.
There are also definitely challenges in collaborating online. One thing that I think of directly is that the students can have or be on different level of knowledge and cognitive skills, digital literacy, unprepared, not enough time to set aside for the task and then the other students will be frustrated. Also that everyone have access to good technical equipment if someone have problem with that the group can be frustrated.
Hammond, M. (2000). ”Communication within on-line forums: the opportunities, the constrains and the value of a communicative approach”.Computer & Education,35. 59-260.
Hrastinski, S. (2009). A theory of oneline learning as online participation.(Akademisk avhandling,Umeåuniversitet).