Interactive and Collaborative Learning

29 11 2010

It is important to choose an appropriate type of virtual tool for interactive and collaborative learning experience. Virtual classroom systems’ features in terms of facilitation of communication, presentation of course content and logistical requirements are important to consider in an online class context.  Virtual tools are mainly divided in two categories:  asynchronous and synchronous. Breeze, Eluminate and Dimdim are the examples of synchronous interactive and collaborative learning tools and they all have some challenges and advantages.

One of the challenges is building a community between the students, and between students and a teacher.  Without feeling the presence of others, students can have difficulty to collaborate and to interact with class members.  The contacts through voice, chat and emoticons are important. Since there is lack of face-to-face communication, it is important for teachers to have presence to encourage students’ participation, and to answer their questions. This definitely takes more time and effort for teachers.

Advantages are also important to consider. It is clear that using online tools are not an opportunity; using them are requirements for the 21st century teachers. If a teacher limits his/her methods with traditional ones, this means that they lose the chance having more knowledge and skills for students. Online collaborative tools give us the chance to have more people in group discussions. They allow quite/shy students to chat and write their ideas. They have freedom on place and time. Asynchronous learning environments allow people to write their ideas anytime they want and reread them later. And finally, I believe that students who are using and exploring online tools will be more comfortable with technology after some time.

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2 responses

3 12 2010
Miguel

It seems that there are still some controversies about how crucial it is to implement collaborative activities as part of an online program. On the one hand, several studies have concluded that being able to interact with others reduces the feeling of isolation among online students; moreover, studies conducted within the area of participatory and social learning have demonstrated multiple times that students tend to perform better when working as part of a team. However, on the other hand, one of the main reasons why students are taking online courses is precisely the flexibility in the schedule. Some students could be working night shift whereas some others could have very different time zones. These factors might make it difficult for all students to be able to participate synchronously in an online class.

Personally I’m convinced that working within a group has the potential to promote learning provided that certain conditions are guaranteed. In other words, not just because students are working together would imply that all of them would benefit from teamwork. Elements such as positive interdependence, individual accountability, group skills and social interaction are critical.

Finally, it seems that there is a typo in your first paragraph: Breeze and Eluminate are synchronous activities not asynchronous 🙂

4 12 2010
edtechweb

Thanks for the correction. It is a typo. 🙂 I will fix it.

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