A personal comment beforehand
For me, it was somehow a relief to learn in the context of this Topic 3 that collaborative learning brings certain challenges with it. For a long time I thought that I was probably not that social, because I didn’t really enjoy group works and I often had to pull myself together in order not to give my opinion directly to peers who didn’t show up unannounced, didn’t do their tasks or just generally didn’t participate much. This resulted in frustration on my side, as described by Capdeferro & Romero (2012) in Figure 1. During my study, I also had reservations about my ability to work as part of a group because of negative past experiences of working with an unproductive or very difficult peer, as described by Brindley et al. (2009).
With increasing life experience, different group works in different set-ups and now also with the participation in OLN222 I am starting to understand more and more that (I think) I actually engage well in collaborative learning, ant that it is really challenging, what is probably one of the reasons why some people probably struggle to really engage.
My contribution in an occasion when real collaborative learning took place
In 2020, I wrote a book about Lake Greifensee (that’s the lake where I grew up) together with 30 different experts. I was one of the two main authors and responsible for collecting all the content, structuring it, layouting it, giving it for proofreading, collect the feedbacks, discussing the feedback with appropriate sub-groups, not losing track of which stage which book chapter is in, etc. Looking back today, I can say that this was a really challenging collaborative work that succeeded. Even though I have already learned a lot about scientific writing through my education, with this work I was able to acquire even more in-depth knowledge from experts with many years of teaching experience of how to write scientific texts in such a way that they are easily understandable for the general public.
And also the PBL group work in this course are very enjoyable, learning and enriching in my opinion. I my opinion the problem-based learning approach very effective.
My own Personal Learning Networks
Over the past few months, I have realised more and more how important it is to network. Collaborative learning is a very good opportunity for this. Accordingly, I find it important to be actively involved in such works. If I keep my eye on the ball, it’s much more fun anyway than falling behind.
In my daily work, I often work with different teams. Here I appreciate the collaborative exchange and learning very much, because these specific pedagogical include the following benefits, which I also perceive (Brindley et al., 2009):
- Development of critical thinking skills,
- Co-creation of knowledge and meaning,
- Transformative learning. (Palloff & Pratt, 2005)
On facebook I regularly learn interesting things about fish and fishing as well as mushrooms and mushroom picking. I also like to share interesting things that I discover online with my friends or in public groups. But I also had to learn that active participation in forums is very time-consuming, and that there are always people who are then envious, or who know everything better anyway. For about 2 years, I have therefore become enormously reluctant to share anything and I have to say that I can live much more balanced this way.
Technologies that enable my networks for learning processes
For me, it is important that not too many tools are used in collaborative work. For me, it is enough to have a suitable tool with sufficient storage space and good accessibility for data storage (e.g. Google Drive) and a tool for communication (e.g. Discord / Whatsapp).
For the output of the group work, on the other hand, I find it exciting to use different tools and technologies to discover new things and learn how to present the content we have worked on.
Brindley, J. E., Walti, C., & Blaschke, L. M. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment | The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. https://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271
Capdeferro, N., & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences? | The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. https://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1127/2129
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Very interesting post, thank you. I am impressed with your reflection, glad to see how and in which way your own journey is relevant and important!
Your post inspires me to further thoughts from my own work. I like to get involved. But sometimes I think there is just not enough time to discuss issues in depth. I also sometimes think that it is not “worthwhile” to disagree with someone, because at the moment I think I would have to go too far to justify my intervention. I often ask myself lately whether I need to “show” my commitment, and how I could do that without also having to speak every time. i find it very stressful when I am invited to a panel or discussion, for example, because the people who invited me think I have something to say about it. Do I actually have to say something then? Would I no longer be perceived as an expert if I didn’t actually do it at that moment in front of all the participants? Wouldn’t there be other ways of collecting opinions, attitudes, assessments from experts than inviting them to contribute? I think our institutions are still a bit one-sided here. Asynchronous tools and platforms would also be important on the job, not only for learning. At the university, we are still miles away from using digital networks in a targeted way. MS Teams is perhaps a start. But it usually only works among peers.
I like your post. I agree with you that ‘it is important that not too many tools are used in collaborative work’. I like to use the tools that I am familiar with.
Florentina, thanks for sharing your experience. I agree that for some of us, working in a group requires getting out of our comfort zone. We don’t have as much freedom to decide, we have to seek consensus. There’s an African saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go as a group”. I subscribe to this!
Thank you for your comment Helen. I realy like this African saying 🙂
Thank you, Florentina, for sharing your ongoing journey. I too have to learn to network and collaborate in my teaching and research. I agree with you that it is exciting to try out a variety of tools and “new” technologies in order to share the collaborative efforts of our PBL group. All the best as we keep learning and moving forward.