Collaborative learning is the opportunity for individuals to learn by sharing ideas and viewpoints. According to McConnell, 2005 “while a new generation of learning is evolving steadily, teachers are still novices in this arena and are requiring considerable support and professional development opportunities in order to understand the potential of e-learning.” If I had to be completely honest, my delayed engagement on Topic 3 must leave my group feeling frustrated with me as this delays the finalisation of a project if one team member is “dragging their feet”. This certainly being a barrier to collaborative learning as you depend on all participants to co-operate on time to ensure project completion.
Not all individuals are able to do this successfully as they perceive collaborative as an obstacle to their own learning. The time that is taken with back and forth discussions may be seen as wasting time and if one feels confident in themselves and their thinking, it may actually just be easier to complete a task yourself. Lecturers may face this resistance with students who see collaborative learning as a barrier to their own learning. Lecturers requiring group engagement maybe faced with students who are not tolerant of their peers who are not as committed in this space.
Collaborative learning involves providing a platform for discussion and engagement. Openness and sharing should go hand in hand with collaboration as success in collaboration comes from how open you are to sharing your ideas and how open you are to listening to opinions of others. Once ideas and opinions have been shared various discussion platforms should allow for engagement on the differences in opinions. Discussion on why people may have varied opinions is essential as this either reinforces your own beliefs or it could broaden your mind to looking at other ideas which may provide a different perspective to your thinking. As indicted by McConnell, 2005 it allows for critical thinking amongst learners. If this does not happen, then all we have done is shared ideas but not necessarily allowed for learning to take place. Time plays a huge role and if teams are not meeting consistently, this then delays the process of collaboration and in turn learning. Those who are more committed or more accessible may not have the patience to wait for others. Commitment and mutual dependency is key for collaborative learning to be sustainable (Berg & Smith, 1990).
According to the research conducted on a 2 year, part time professional development Masters Course (McConnell, 2003) various group patterns were identified by the three groups being “anxiety, non-response of certain members, strong individuals non prepared to negotiate other points of view, decisions made by certain members only, ground rules of the project which kept changing”.
Actual engagement is important and collaborative leaning should not only rely in the written work. Collaboration requires groups setting time aside for meaningful discussion and brainstorming. Technology itself cannot support the learning (Mantovani, 1994). This takes commitment from all involved as commitment imbalance leads to frustration by other team members (Capdeferro and Romero, 2012)
The mere fact that we are able to complete this ONL162 course through online learning shows the advantage of collaborative learning. Our presentations then depict an example of collaborative learning and without the sharing and collaboration of all our ideas, this would not be possible. If I use this as an additional opportunity to reflect on collaborative learning for topic 1 and 2, my feedback would be that as a group we lacked the ability to go back and discuss the difference in opinions as we did not all agree on our final reflections however I think we identified this as a problem. We ended up presenting a final document with varied thoughts and perspectives and not a common thought process. Did we collaborate? Maybe we did. Could we have done it better? Most certainly yes!
Berg, D. N. & Smith, K. K. (1990). Paradox of groups, in: J, A, M. Gillette Groups in context: a new perspective on group dynamics (Reading, MA, Addison Wesley)
Mantovani, G. (1994). Is computer mediated communication intrinsically apt to enhance democracy in organisations? Human Relations, 47 (1); 45 – 62
Romero, M., & Capdeffero, N. (2012). Are Online Learners Frustrated with Collaborative Learning Experiences? Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Spain