Block 5 > Communities and collaboration > Thursday


Proponents of collaborative learning have long heralded the power of well managed group-based interaction as a means of promoting positive interdependence, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing. In this third topic we will encourage learners to explore aspects of collaborative, cooperative and community learning especially in relation to networked online spaces for learning, personal learning networks and environments and discuss the relevance of peer learning and the development of learning communities in the context of self-directed and self-organised learning within and beyond institutional boundaries (formal, informal and non-formal learning).

Scenario (as an animation, text and audio)

“I’m designing a new Online Masters Programme with a focus on work-based learning. In submitting the paperwork for approval I’ve had several questions about how we will ensure student engagement and build a distributed learning community. This will be a massive challenge, I think and the big question is if students will engage and collaborate with their peers. There needs to be flexibility for students to engage but I am not sure how to do this and in the back of my mind is also the question of how much of my time is it going to take to set up something like this. How can I ensure that students really recognise the value of becoming part of a learning communicate and collaborate with their peers even if they don’t see each other.”

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

  1. discuss collaborative learning in the digital age
  2. reflect on establishing learning communities in your own practice
  3. review collaborative learning and community features

Pick ‘n’ mix activities

Definitely do one of the following activities! If you are learning within a group consider carrying out one of the below as a collaborative task. Remember to share on Twitter and in the other community spaces.

1. Responding: Create a response to the scenario in collaboration with others based on the discoveries you made together through investigating this. Remember, you could use FISh. (ilo-1)

2. Reflecting: Reflect on the concept of learning communities within your own practice.  (ilo-2)

3. Making: Create a GIF that captures your thinking around collaborative learning and community as it is developing. (ilo-3)

Suggested readings

1. Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept by Etienne Wenger, available here

2. The connected culture of collaboration by Digital Science, John Hammer available here

3. Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?, by Neus Capdeferro and Margarida Romero available here

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