topic 4: collaborative learning and communities

Rationale:  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. This third unit 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).

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 in PBL groups the collaborative learning and community features of the chosen scenario

Activities/tasks for all learners

  1. Google + FDOL community: Discuss aspects of collaborative learning and communities in participants’ professional context with peers and comment on each others’ contributions.
  2. Twitter: During this fourth topic you are encouraged to continue to use your Twitter account. Remember to use the hashtag #fdol141 when tweeting. Why not share a resource you have found useful.
  3. Reflection: Reflect on how you enable collaborative learning, how you use technologies, why. Are there opportunities for further development in this area you have now identified as a result of your engagement in this tpic? Comment and invite others to comment on yours.
  4. Reflecting through images: Have a look at the image below and think about in the context of this unit. Then reflect on your experiences. Have you felt like this before in a learning situation? What did this mean for your learning/teaching?
Where is everybody else?

Where is everybody else?
image source

Additional activities/tasks for learners within PBL group


“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.”

  1. Use the above scenario or contribute your own.
  2. Investigate the chosen scenario: Consider using the COOL FISh framework and adapt as it suits the group.
  3. Share you findings: At the end of this topic share your main findings in a creative way in the FDOL  community.
  4. Reflection: Reflect individually and in your PBL group on your learning.


suggested readings
1. Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online envrionment, by Jane E. Brindley et al., available here
2. Learner generated content: Quality criteria in online collaborative learning, by Maria Pérez-Mateo et al., available here
3. Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept by Etienne Wenger, available here
4. Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?, by Neus Capdeferro and Margarida Romero available hereadditional resources
FDOL diigo group at check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.


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