29 October – 11 November
Is 1+1=2 or is there more to it? The coming two weeks will be all about learning in communities, networking and collaboration. Most of us have experiences from group work, that for some reason hasn’t worked all that well. It may have turned out as cooperative rather than collaborative or there may have been social loafing involved. So – when it really works well, how does this change the way we learn? And networking, in this age of social media, how can this be used for learning and how can we build Personal Learning Networks (PLN) to support this? Is there a recipe for making collaborative work a fruitful experience? To interact and learn together with peers in different formats have become an integral part of student centered education. Technology offers new possibilities for interaction and forming new kinds of social networks, including learners as well as facilitators and experts – but also offers challenges, such as keeping focus on learning processes, and not only tools, in online environments.

Activities for all learners

As a part of this topic about collaborative learning and communities it fits well to learn more about and, if you haven’t already, try out Twitter. Have a look at Alastairs video What is Twitter? and make at least one tweet during the week. Remember to use the hashtag #ONL181 when tweeting. For this topic there will be an organised “tweet chat” for those who are interested, see below.

Common course events
Hope you can join this topic’s events! First, we have a webinar with Francisca Frenks, Gizeh Perez Tenorio and Sonja Sharp. Wednesday 31 October 15.00-16.00 (CET), followed by a tweetchat: Thursday 8 November 20.00-21.00 (CET).

Learning blog – reflection: Towards the end of the topic 3, finalise and share your reflections in your blog and have a look around how others have captured their stories. Suggested themes for reflection in your learning blog:

  • An occasion when real collaborative learning took place, that moved your own thinking forward
  • Your own Personal Learning Networks – how have they developed and how they could be taken further
  • Reflect on how you can use technologies to enable your own networks for learning processes

Don’t forget to read and comment on peer’s blogs!

PBL group work

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities.
Here is this topic’s scenario to consider in your PBL group:

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?”

Readings and other resources

To watch

PLNs Theory and Practice by Kay Oddone, part 1.

PLNs Theory and Practice by Kay Oddone, part 2.

To read

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.

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.


By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  • discuss networked and collaborative learning in the digital age
  • reflect on and take part in establishing learning communities
  • reflect on how your own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) can be developed
  • inquire into collaborative learning and community features related to a specific scenario



with Francisca Frenks, Gizeh Perez Tenorio and Sonja Sharp. Wednesday 31 October 15.00-16.00 (CET)


Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning, Thursday 8 November 20.00-21.00 (CET)


During this topic I have:

  • Attended at least two of the PBL group online meetings
  • Contributed actively to the group work on the scenario
  • Contributed actively to the group discussion in Google+
  • Commented on some peer’s blog posts
  • Written my reflective blog post on topic 3
  • Studied the recommended resources for this topic.