The third topic of ONL is here with yet another interesting topic: Learning in communities and networked collaborative learning. With the best example of networked collaborative learning to be the ONL course itself!

Collaborative learning is one of the educational approaches that involved teaching and learning in which the students/learners work in groups. Collaborative learning has many benefits that can be classified to social (such as facilitate the development of social support system for learners), psychological (development of positive attitudes towards teaches and reduced anxiety) and academic (promotes critical thinking, active involvement of the students) (1). Of course, not everything is easy with collaborative learning, as to gain the best out of it, the learners need to be open to new ideas and possibly criticism. Apart from being open, learners should also use good and clear communication, promote trust and clarify goals and expectations. To be able to ‘collaborate’ is a soft skill and is considered among the future skills that are important in the working places of the future (2)

Use of online tools for learning and teaching activities is becoming more and more important for universities. The current situation also with the pandemic pushed even more the switch to online teaching, which is expected to remain even after the end of the pandemic. Such collaborative technologies offer a plentiful of new ways for learners to share and exchange ideas, even their own digital products (3).

Participating in the ONL course was an opportunity for myself to experience networked collaborative learning. Before the course, I had recently getting familiarized with collaborative tools such as Zoom and Teams. Throughout the course I got the familiarize myself with more tools and especially tools that we, as learners, can use to prepare assignment online and work together on the same project, such as Canva and Coggle. These are very useful tools for to work online together with groups as they allow several participants to work on the project in real time. Of course, such on-line tools offer endless possibilities, but we go back again on the need to have the digital literacies that will allow to use them. That can often be hard for learners that do not feel comfortable to such situations and especially that you switch from personal contact with other learners to work on-line. This was actually a topic of discussion within our PBL group; how do face-to-face vs on-line work changes how we approach meeting and group works. In some aspects it can be more efficient, as all of us noticed that this way we spend more time on task. On the other hand, face-to-face collaboration can create a better bonding within the learners.


  • Laal M, Ghodsi SM: Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2012, 31:486-490.
  • Ehlers UD, Kellermann S: Future skills – he future of learning and higher education. Results of the international future skills Delphi survey. Karlsruhe/Germany.
  • Laurillard D: The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 2008
Topic 3: Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning