No More Learning In Isolation! Why we need to Collaborate in Order to Learn…

inspirational-quote-reaction-transformation-carl-jungRetrieved from: http://personalexcellence.co/quotes/2735

This blog post has been built upon the conversations and learning with others over the last two months…

 The ideas started based on Ian O’Byrne ‘s  Digitally Literate Google Hangout about Writing and Publishing Openly Online. Ian and I have had an ongoing discussion about the idea that “Open is an Attitude” which was originally brought to our attention by Doug Belshaw. Doug Belshaw was one of the Digitally Literate guests and he mentioned using Minecraft or a “game” as a space to connect with your kids when you are away from home. Then he blogged about it.  The concept of meeting and interacting using digital tools to connect, interact and possibly collaborate – intrigued me. Coincidentally, I recently completed the #Gamifi-ED project with Dr. Lee Graham, Vicki Davis and Colin Ousterhout. In one of our final gamemaker weekly chats we started talking about the importance of collaboration in online environments.  Vicki and Lee were fascinated (and intrigued) by the increased engagement level of their students based on online collaboration – but we were wondering what had led to such high levels of engagement and so we started examining research on collaboration in online environments.

So I started to look for research in online learning environments – with an “open” or networked” focus if possible…

Debbie Morrison’s post on, “How Collaborative Learning Works in Closed Online courses vs MOOCs” started to give me a better idea, from a learning design point of view, of the differences between online “group work” and MOOC networked serendipitous collaborations:

“Collaborative learning [group work] is a component of COLCs and MOOCs, yet learning with peers occurs differently in each; one is prescribed, controlled and potentially used for assessment purposes, as in the COLC, while in a MOOC learning is often chaotic, student-driven, optional, and not controllable by course facilitators given its thousands of participants.”

(COLC, is the acronym Morrison used to label a closed, online, for-credit learning, course)

Similarly, a recent research synthesis on Connected Learning (Written by Mimi Ito and large group of writers) suggests that learning involves intergenerational collaboration with like minded learners based on similar passions.

  • This is Table 1 from the Connected Learning Framework:

2014-05-03_0-14-47

2014-05-03_0-15-44

Retrieved from: http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/ConnectedLearning_report.pdf

Another ongoing conversation has been with Karen Fasimpaur. We are chatting back and forth in a wide variety of digital mediums, blogs, google hangouts and twitter chats about how open educational resources play a role in open learning and collaboration.

So – I began to think about the opportunity to encourage student engagement in online courses by integrating collaboration that prioritizes learning relationships and authentic applications to their lives.  All of my learning has been in collaborative spaces where I have been interacting with people or directed to blog responses or twitter interactions by people. My deeper and more meaningful learning connections have developed as a result of collaborating with others.  So this post about the potential of online collaboration is a result of – online collaboration.

And then  this week- I was in a Palliser PD Session on Literacy given By Dr. David Booth. I had that moment to breathe and connect the ideas as I drove many km’s back and forth to the face to face session. I needed that time to think and reflect.

I heard Dr. Booth ask me to reconsider my perspectives, “Today’s kids aren’t  your childhood”, to consider “how do we prepare kids for a world we don’t know?” and, “ to find meaning in all text forms.”

How will I do this as a teacher? I need to get to know my students, develop relationships with them. I need to accept that they are not only me in that they may not learn like I do, but that digital media and influence ensures that students today cannot be like me. I need to facilitate personalized learning opportunities by being a meaning maker. I need to rethink my role as a teacher by figuring out how I can be most useful and helpful by trying to “read the code” of literacy medium. This means examining what literacy could mean in terms of the context, text, person, skill, ability and medium in order to best meet the needs of my learners.

I am currently working  as an online teacher with Palliser Beyond Borders. Dr. Booth’s words, inspired me to rethink how we could learn about Forensic science. I decided that I needed to include a story into the course, a case study. Although I am starting the story, as we start the course and build relationships, I am hoping that we can construct the whole story together by the end of the course. We will co-create  our learning through online collaboration.

Based on all of my learning about online collaboration, I am using Mozilla Popcorn Webmaker as my literacy tool.  I am able to integrate videos, music, wikipedia, maps, 3D models, images and personal comments into a digital story.

https://vroberts.makes.org/popcorn/1zjm

Students will be able to remix my original story, compare the original story, add to the story, collaborate with others in developing new stories and hopefully construct their own stories. Their voice will be heard and their learning will be transparent.

I  so excited that my open collaborations with others were able to help me rethink how to encourage collaboration and deeper, more meaningful learning with my students.

How are you learning as an educator? Do you feel that collaboration leads to more learning opportunities?

One thought on “No More Learning In Isolation! Why we need to Collaborate in Order to Learn…

  1. Randy LaBonte

    Hi Verena. Good piece, and I could not agree more about collaboration between and among students.

    Good teachers have always been able to engage students – from their imaginations to their active participation in constructing learning through experiences with other students. Online environments are just another piece of the canvas where teachers are able to do this.

    I shared this post with my Vancouver Island University students in our Google Plus ‘canvas’ site. It will be interesting to get their feedback on Mozilla Popcorn Webmaker and see how they may find that tool can help in their K12 programs.

Please support my attempts to build knowledge together with some feedback and/or suggestions