Promoting cooperation and collaboration in a web based learning environment
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Promoting cooperation and collaboration in a web-based learning environment Fay Sudweeks School of Information Technology Murdoch University, Perth, Australia [email protected] Questions Can we do more to encourage cooperative and collaborative learning among students studying online?

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Promoting cooperation and collaboration in a web based learning environment l.jpg

Promoting cooperationand collaborationin a web-basedlearning environment

Fay Sudweeks

School of Information Technology

Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

[email protected]


Questions l.jpg
Questions

  • Can we do more to encourage cooperative and collaborative learning among students studying online?

  • How can we connect students who are studying in different modes and in different locations?


E learning l.jpg
E-Learning

  • Why e-learning?

    • Rising costs of education

    • Reduced funding for universities (particularly in Australia)

    • Demand from students wanting to study off-campus (whether “internal” or “external” students)

  • Benefits of elearning

    • Attracting new “offshore” markets

    • Ability to develop “packaged” programs

    • Reducing inequalities, e.g. access for the disabled, the elderly


E learning4 l.jpg
E-Learning

  • Problems in e-learning:

    • Learning environment, itself, regarded as “glue” connecting separate educational elements.

    • Little thought given to specific pedagogical strategies

    • Lack of appropriate social and collaborative activities

      • Little support for students to build interdependent relationships

  • (Unintended) consequences of e-learning:

    • Feelings of social isolation in students

    • Paradox: communication technologies can separate rather than connect students with one another.


Cooperation vs collaboration l.jpg
Cooperation vs Collaboration

  • Cooperative learning:

    • “a protocol in which the task is, in advance, split into subtasks that the partners solve independently” (Dillenbourg and Schneider, 1995)

  • Collaborative learning:

    • “where two or more subjects build synchronously and interactively a joint solution to some problem” (Dillenbourg and Schneider, 1995)


  • Effective cooperation collaboration l.jpg
    Effective cooperation/collaboration

    • Critical elements

      • learning tasks

      • learning resources

      • learning supports

    • Attributes

      • communication

      • interdependence

      • leadership

      • accountability


    E learning framework l.jpg

    Content, information and resources with which learners interact

    Activities, problems,

    interactions used to engage the learners

    Learning

    tasks

    Learning

    resources

    Learning

    supports

    Scaffolds, structures, encouragement, motivation, assistance, connections

    E-learning framework

    After Oliver, 2001, p. 407


    Case study l.jpg
    Case Study interact

    • Organisational Informatics

      • Part II undergraduate unit

      • Enrolment

        • 156 students

      • Multimodal and multi-located students

        • Modes: part-time, full-time, external

        • Locations: Murdoch, Rockingham, International

      • Topics

        • computer-mediated communication, group process, computer-supported collaborative work, virtual communities, etc.

      • WebCT learning management system


    Case study9 l.jpg
    Case Study interact

    • Organisational Informatics

      • Assessment:

        • online tutorial presentation

        • online tutorial participation

        • weekly reflective journals

        • research essay

        • examination


    E learning framework10 l.jpg

    Content, information and resources with which learners interact

    Activities, problems,

    interactions used to engage the learners

    Learning

    tasks

    Learning

    resources

    Learning

    supports

    Scaffolds, structures, encouragement, motivation, assistance, connections

    E-learning framework


    Slide11 l.jpg

    Activities, problems, interactions interact

    Content, information, resources

    Scaffolds,

    structure, motivation

    Learning tasks

    Learning Resources

    Learning Supports

    Group

    Bulletin

    Boards

    Private

    Email

    Tutorial

    Transcripts

    Lecture

    Notes

    Tutors Email

    And Photo

    Presenter

    Guidelines

    Whiteboard

    Reflective

    Journals

    Research

    Essay

    Readings

    Web

    Portal

    Team Work

    Guidelines

    Calendar

    Team

    Project

    Web-based Learning Environment

    Web-Based Learning Environment


    Team project l.jpg
    Team Project interact

    • Students assigned randomly to project teams

      • 156 students in 10 tutorial groups

      • 4 teams in each tutorial group = 39 project teams

    • Development of a proposal for a major event

      • e.g. weddings, funerals, safaris, conferences, product launches, 21st birthday parties, concerts, movie premiers, store opening

    • Aim

      • Effective team work, i.e. communication, interdependence, leadership and accountability


    Project objectives l.jpg
    Project Objectives interact

    • Practical skills

      • stimulate creativity and skills in project development

      • develop knowledge of distributed collaboration (practising what we are preaching)

      • experience different modes of communication among virtual team members

      • evaluate effectiveness of different modes of mediated communication

      • develop skills in presenting information to distant clients

    • Requirements for effective team work

      • communication, interdependence, leadership, accountability

    • Learning can be fun!

      • different (fun) style of assessment


    Communication l.jpg
    Communication interact

    • Team members (4) restricted to text-based mediated communication

      • E.g. email, private forums (bulletin boards), chat rooms, IRC, ICQ, instant messaging, SMS

    • Advantages

      • “level playing field” for multi-mode/multi-located students

      • practical application of unit’s theoretical focus

    • Communication diary

      • recorded frequency, length, topic and reflection of each communication event.


    Slide15 l.jpg

    Communication Diary interact

    A worksheet for each communication type and each group records frequency, time, topic and reflection

    .


    Slide16 l.jpg

    Communication Diary interact

    The overview worksheet automatically updates frequency and time length of each communication event.


    Interdependence l.jpg
    Interdependence interact

    • Interdependent roles:

      • Client

      • Consultant

      • Researcher

      • Presenter

    • Advantages of roles:

      • Facilitated structure of interdependent subtasks (cooperation) and interactivity in problem solving (collaboration)


    Interdependence18 l.jpg
    Interdependence interact

    • Client

      • Proposes initial ideas for the event, which need to be creative and innovative.

      • Provides requirements of what components are to be included.

      • Provides a budget.

      • Evaluates consultant's two alternative plans for the event, chooses one, and provides a rationale for the selection.

      • Evaluates and approves detailed budget.


    Interdependence19 l.jpg
    Interdependence interact

    • Consultant

      • Develops two alternative plans for the event.

      • Advises the client to choose the better plan, giving clear reasons why it is superior. Both plans, though, are within the guidelines provided by the client.

      • Provides a detailed costing for the selected plan.

      • Provides steps for implementation.


    Interdependence20 l.jpg
    Interdependence interact

    • Researcher

      • Keeps a diary of the communication among team members including:

        • Time spent on different communication channels

        • Frequency of messages on each channel

        • Main topic of communication

        • Reflection on the effectiveness of each communication channel

      • Prepares a graphical representation of this information to be included in the presentation.


    Interdependence21 l.jpg
    Interdependence interact

    • Presenter

      • Organises material into a PowerPoint presentation.

        • Includes information from the researcher for the firm’s billing purposes and for improving the quality of the firm's service for future clients.

      • Demonstrates creative and innovative ideas appropriately to “sell” the plan to the client.

      • Presents the project online to the tutorial group in the last week of semester.


    Leadership l.jpg
    Leadership interact

    • Team member

      • Suggested that the team member who was the Researcher be responsible for keeping the project moving forward

        • Practical since researcher was monitoring all communication

    • Tutor and unit coordinator

      • More of a monitoring role

      • Access to most communication and able to resolve any potential conflicts


    Accountability l.jpg
    Accountability interact

    • Communication archives

      • Available to all team members (bulletin boards, private forums, chat rooms)

    • Peer-assessment of individual team member contribution

      • Default assessment was equal distribution of marks among team members

      • Option for the team to request unequal distribution (communication archives provided partial evidence of unequal participation)


    Communication24 l.jpg
    Communication interact

    • Frequency of communication media

      • Asynchronous media used most frequently

        • Email (41%), private forums (bulletin board) (20%)

      • Some notable exceptions:

        • One team used instant messaging almost exclusively (95% of all communication compared with average of 5% across all teams)

        • One team used SMS extensively (64% of all communication compared with average of 5% across all teams)


    Communication25 l.jpg
    Communication interact

    Average across 39 teams


    Communication26 l.jpg
    Communication interact

    • Duration of communication media

      • Average time: 460 minutes (~7½ hours)

      • Shortest time: 41 minutes

      • Longest time: 1,978 minutes (~33 hours)


    Communication summary l.jpg
    Communication Summary interact

    Average across 39 teams


    Survey l.jpg
    Survey interact

    • Students surveyed at end of semester.

    • Asked for a rating on 20 questions related to:

      • Team communication

      • Team dynamics

      • Perceptions of the team project

      • Perceptions of e-learning

    • Plus comments


    Slide29 l.jpg

    Team communication interact

    The degree of interaction was very high (49%)

    Getting in touch with team members was easy (35%)

    I learned more about other team members than I would have in a ftf team (47%)


    Slide30 l.jpg

    Team dynamics interact

    Reaching consensus was easy (56%)

    I enjoyed working with this team (61%)

    I appreciated the cultural diversity of the student population more (47%)

    (12 different cultures reported by teams)


    Slide31 l.jpg

    Project interact

    Project guidelines were clear (76%)

    Able to work independently on own tasks (70%)

    Project was a positive experience (61%)


    Slide32 l.jpg

    E-Learning interact

    Effective learning experience (78%)

    Comfortable with communication being monitored (51%)

    WebCT encourages active learning (74%)


    Comments l.jpg
    Comments interact

    • Positive

      • “I think that the online team is a great idea for university courses. Why: Its so easy to see who is at meetings, record minutes, have tasks pinpointed. You have time to think before answering via email and the ability to get good written feedback. Maybe I was lucky in that the team I was part of was excellent. So far it has been one of the best group experiences.”

      • “No fights only good discussions, everyone has done their bit excellently, it has been a pleasure to work in this team.”


    Comments34 l.jpg
    Comments interact

    • Negative

      • “Communication was difficult because not all group members could access all channels.”

      • “One of the team members was a bit difficult to get in touch with – took several days before he answered email and he did not show up in the chat room.”


    Evaluation l.jpg
    Evaluation interact

    • Student self-reports

      • Overall satisfaction with the project

    • Project grades

      • More than two-thirds (69%) of the teams attained a higher grade (D or HD)

    • Conflicts

      • 7 of the 39 teams requested variation in grading

        • 2 teams requested 1 member receive a grade less

        • 2 teams requested 1 member receive a pass grade

        • 3 teams requested 1 member receive a fail


    Example project event homer s funeral marilyn ranford timothy geldard kelwin chan veronica malmoe l.jpg
    Example Project Event interactHomer’s FuneralMarilyn Ranford, Timothy Geldard, Kelwin Chan, Veronica Malmoe


    Conclusions l.jpg
    Conclusions interact

    • Cooperation

      • Students felt a sense of autonomy in working on subtasks as well as working interdependently with team members. Most students found the teamwork a positive experience despite some members not working as well as the rest of the team.

    • Collaboration

      • The majority of teams were congenial. More than half of the teams found it easy to reach consensus in problem solving, enjoyed working together and expressed interest in meeting face-to-face.


    Conclusions38 l.jpg
    Conclusions interact

    • Design of web-based learning environment

      • Include elements of tasks, resources and supports.

    • Teamwork attributes

      • Integrate key attributes of communication, interdependence, leadership and accountability


    Further considerations l.jpg
    Further considerations interact

    • So … perfect? No, not quite …

    • Team composition

      • Consider incorporating an initial skills matrix to match students of similar work habits (e.g. JIT), preferences (different streams) and grade expectations.

    • Comparison

      • Compare results with different student cohort (in 2003).


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