Every fourth or fifth article I lay my eyes on starts with how isolated students became over the last months. True. This is why we should all consider collaborative activities in online teaching. The skill that online educators (especially those only moving online) need to learn and embrace is to be able to engage learners in collaboration online. This cannot be done effectively without some pedagogical foundations and the set of appropriate collaborative tools.
Collaboration is one of the most basic and important types of engagement
- Learning Types by D. Laurillard
- Prof Diana Laurillard research papers on eLearning and pedagogy (collaboration is one of the topics she writes about)
In summary – collaboration allows learners to work together in groups and build knowledge while searching for understanding, meaning or solutions. Learners develop and build their knowledge via social discourse and conversation.
With online collaborative learning, the aim is to use technology and increase and improve communication between teacher and learners.
Online collaboration helps to develop a whole suite of skills. It improves communication and lets learners connect. Working together allows learners to brainstorm ideas and learn from each other. This, in turn, helps to develop project management skills and prepare for the future workplace.
Collaboration can have many forms, from simple asynchronous tasks or online polls that could be followed by discussions, to complex problem-based challenges.
Collaborative learning tactics
Here are some ideas of the kind of activities and approaches you can use to collaborate:
- Small group assignments
- Online field trips
- Group work on case studies
- Problem-based projects
- Challenge-based projects
- Simulations (Virtual Reality Training)
- Shared facilitations
- Homework forums
- Asynchronous discussion of the assigned reading
- Blogs or online journals that allow learners to reflect and comment on each other’s reflection
- Jigsaw activities where learners solve components of a large project in groups and then bring their work together to form the whole project
- WebQuests,where teams are sent out for online scavenger hunts to find the solution to a problem
Tools for collaboration online
The online collaboration landscape changes with more tools being added every year. They allow both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. Here are some examples if you consider collaborative activities in your online teaching:
The online collaboration landscape changes with more tools being added every year. They allow both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. Here are some examples:
Web and video conferencing (e.g. WebEx, ZOOM / Microsoft teams / Google Hangouts / Adobe Connect / Skype, etc ), Eduflow – for scaffolded online discussions, FlipGrid – for adding a video element into discussion and collaboration,VideoAnt – for annotating and commenting on videos, Parlay Ideas – for online discussion with analytics or Goose Chase Edu – an online scavenger hunts.
All these collaboration tools and platforms are discussed in my recent post:
15 ideas for online collaboration tools for eLearning.
- Online collaborative learning
- Collaboration online – tools and platforms
- TPD as online collaborative learning for innovation in teaching by D. Laurillard