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Collaborative Learning in ODL


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Collaborative Learning in ODL by Ormond Simpson

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Collaborative Learning in ODL

  1. 1. ‘Collaborative learning in ODL’ Ormond Simpson 21 November 2018 Please use the ‘Chat’ box to question and comment as we go along! 1 ‘You have to attend classes. You can’t just follow me on Twitter’
  2. 2. ‘Collaborative learning in ODL’ 1. Why should distance students collaborate? 2. What's the best way to help students collaborate? 3. Do students like it? – peer collaboration problems 4. Most importantly! - does it work? 5. Your questions? – comment in the chat room
  3. 3. 1. Why should distance students collaborate?  to improve learning?  to develop team working skills?  to save money on tutors?  Something else? If all or some of the above, should collaborative learning be compulsory?
  4. 4. 2. Ways to help students collaborate? i. Mentoring – previous students on a course supporting newer students on the same course ii. Peer collaboration – students on same course working together without a tutor iii. Tutor-led discussion groups online iv. Other learners – family, friends, employers, teachers v. Other ways?
  5. 5. (i) Mentoring Connecting learners with previous learners (a) asking for volunteer mentors by mail or email
  6. 6. Mentoring (b) telling mentees what to expect from a mentor
  7. 7. Mentoring (c) training mentors
  8. 8. (d) Rewarding mentors  financially?  with a qualification?  with a certificate?  ? OU certificate presented to mentors at the Open University Mentoring
  9. 9. Mentoring (e) does mentoring work? International study of mentoring (UK, New Zealand and S. Korea) Increases in retention 35% over a non-mentored control group Cost benefit ratio of >200%
  10. 10. (ii) Peer collaboration on line Students on same course learning together (i) Connecting students - at face-to-face tutorials? - organised by email? - tutors to organise? - on a VLE? - using social networks - other ways? Meeting online on the VLE, or elsewhere – e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp etc
  11. 11. 11 Facebook Yammer WhatsApp Snapchat Yik Yak Twitter Email Viber SMS (text messaging) Peer collaboration online Students connecting using social software Voicemail But how effective are they for learning? Instagram
  12. 12. 12 3. Do students like it? – peer collaboration problems Collaborative learning not always popular Problem 1- Scheduling and embarrassment “ Online groups don’t work for me – it’s like a party – you either arrive too early and there’s no-one there. Or you arrive too late and everyone is already discussing assignment 3 and you’ve hardly started assignment 1” “I don’t like online discussions. I find it very hard to join in because I’m rather shy”
  13. 13. 13 Problem 2 – Harassment, ‘Dropout contagion’ and irrelevance “I was once harassed online so I don’t join in any more” “Three students in my discussion group dropped out and I lost heart” “All we did in my group was just chat”
  14. 14. Peer collaboration problems Solution? - (i) Telling students why collaborative learning is useful ‘Getting Together’ – see
  15. 15. 15 Peer collaboration problems Solution – (ii) Give students useful strategies Use participation techniques – ‘snowballing’ or ‘pyramiding’ - ‘soap boxing’ - Concept cards - etc. Maybe as a video? ‘All Together ‘ – suggestions for getting student discussions going See
  16. 16. Peer collaboration problems Solution? - (iii) ‘Study Dating’ Give students control over who they collaborate with
  17. 17. 1717 17
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. 19 Would this work?
  20. 20. 20 Peer collaboration problems Solution (iv) Make participation part of assessment ‘The beehive metaphor’ Hughes (2011)
  21. 21. The hive as learning environment • Queen Bees - fed by workers. Purpose is reproduction • Worker Bees – collect pollen and make wax • Drones – Fed by workers and cannot survive outside the hive. One will fertilise the Queen.
  22. 22. The hive as learning environment • Queens - leaders of an online discussion who produce a product or joint assignment • Workers – gather and contribute knowledge to the discussion • Drones – largely absent from the discussion although occasionally provide a new idea often late in the day Is this fair? Hughes, G. (2011) ‘Queen bees, workers and drones: gender performance in virtual learning groups’ In Kirkup (Ed) Gender issues in learning and working with IT
  23. 23. To modify the hive behaviour? • Compulsory contribution - all are workers or queens • But students may have good reasons not to participate: busy lives, illness, feel excluded by others, arrived late to the discussion, do not know what is going on etc.
  24. 24. “There was a ‘sell by date’ to the contributions … As much as I appreciated I could go to the discussion board at any time, it appeared late entrants rarely got any feedback…”
  25. 25. Ethical dilemmas • Is compulsory participation in online discussions necessary to prevent some learners depending on others to do all the work? • Or unfair on those who cannot easily take part?
  26. 26. ‘Collaborative learning in ODL’ 4. Most importantly! - does it work? - yes: some evidence that mentoring works and is cost-effective. More evidence needed, but ‘random controlled studies’ very difficult in distance education
  27. 27. ‘Collaborative learning in ODL’ 1. Why should distance students collaborate? 2. What's the best way to help students collaborate? 3. Do students like it? – peer collaboration problems 4. Most importantly! - does it work? 5. Your questions? – comment in the chat room
  28. 28. Comments, criticisms and discussion always very welcome! Email: Website Supporting Students for Success