Collaboration seems to be easy, but is it really easy to achieve?
As Tuckman (1956) mentions there is a group finding process which always takes place. In the forming phase team members have many insecurities, in the following storming phase they try to define their territory, it is a more conflicting time, rules have to be established in the norming phase only than the team is ready to work together in the performing phase.
We made as well very interesting experiences as two groups were merged. It was a good move concerning the topic. In this case we can extend our reflection and we gained some more practical knowledge.
I reflected over the situation the last days and I found out that the challenges we experienced from my perspective were due to the extended number of participants. Former in the smaller group thing run smooth and fast like navigating a small ship. Now we found ourself in a big ship sluggish on the ocean. So as moderator or teacher you need to change your approach. The social aspect has to be shortened otherwise you lose too much time and team members should get the same amount of time if possible so that everybody will be included. Another aspect is that differences in the group occur which had not been on the surface before, as team members have different expectations. There are different characters that have to get along together, more dominant with more quiet persons, and different communication styles. Differences have to be addressed and solved for working well together. As well the communication has to be respectful in order to create a good working atmosphere, digital skills are playing another role in our learning environment. So there has to be a commitment to get to know new things/tools or there is as well a possibility to get stuck with the tools you already know. Then there is to answer the question, does only a minority want to be stuck and therefore the rest is going along with it and getting stuck too?
So there are a lot of aspects to consider and a lot of things that can go wrong. Therefore collaboration is not that easy to achieve. The process has to work out well in order for a good cooperation to be installed.
Kerres (2018) mentions three different stages for group finding with internet-based courses:
1. Informal exchange
2. Project-based collaboration
3. Collegial cooperation
To achieve collaboration on a higher level is not that easy but I think all stages of collaboration have their own value.
I think as well that working processes were learners work intensively together have to be carefully designed. For example in “law” it makes sense e. g. for the discussion of different cases or as well in medicine. Or you create a difficult problem so that learners have to discuss intensely to solve the issue. Otherwise I suspect often the aim to engage in collegial cooperation, social learning for a longer period and going beyond, would often not be achieved.
Kerres, M. (2018). Mediendidaktik: Konzeption und Entwicklung digitaler Lernangebote (5. Aufl.). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequences in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 348- 399.