Connectivist on Collaboration

Through the discussions with my group members (blog contributors) and classmates (UOIT – EDUC5103 summer 2012), collaboration has continued to surface as an important component to a learning environment that is ability-based, not age-based. With the more and more online tools being developed that support online connected collaboration, I thought it would be valuable to continue to research and understand how collaboration fits in to connectivist ideas on learning.

In a 2009 article from Jane E. Brindley and Christine Walti (University of Oldenburg, Germany) and Lisa M. Blaschke (University of Maryland University College, USA) They discuss ideas of learning from a connectivist perspective. They state that it consists of retrieving information from self, others, and machines, collaborating to create knowledge, and applying information to current contexts (Brindley, Walti & Blaschke, 2009).

Considering learning in a collaborative environment from a connectivist perspective, knowledge is shared or transmitted among learners as they work towards common learning goals, Like a shared understanding of the subject or a solution to a problem (Brindley et al., 2009). “Learners are not passive receptacles but are active in their process of knowledge acquisition as they participate in discussions, search for information, and exchange opinions with their peers. Knowledge is co-created and shared among peers, not owned by one particular learner.” (Brindley et al., 2009)

In this learner driven or student driven approach, the role of the educator needs to be dramatically different. As I mentioned in my previous post on the roles of a teacher from a connectivist perspective, teachers take on roles that are more like partnerships than a traditional expert to learner relationship.

One of the goals possibly of taking this approach is the that according to Brindley et al. (2009) this collaborative learning process help students to develop higher order thinking skills and to achieve richer understanding of the knowledge generated through their shared goals, shared exploration, and a shared process of meaning making.

The impact of the teacher in these roles are very valuable as they help students to learn the skills need to learn as they work in these collaborative settings developing critical and higher order thinking. As I sift through the material, these are some of my thoughts and ideas about how the pieces fit together. It would be great to hear what you think.

Brindley, J., Walti, C. and Blaschke, M. (2009, June). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

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