Collaborative learning and communities

This week structure of collaborative learning in FDOL courses has become a little bit clearer to me.  I have read a very interesting article “Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning” by Hrastinski. This blog post is mainly reflecting on that article.

Hrastinski studies are based on three types of communication; content-related, planning tasks and social support. These three types of communication are thought to be acquired to build sustaining e-learning communication (Haythornthwaite, 2002).

Type exchange Examples
Content-related
  •   Ask or answer   a content-related question
  •   Share   information
  •   Express an   idea or thought
Planning of tasks
  •   Plan work,   allocate tasks, coordinate joint efforts, or review drafts
  •   Negotiate and resolve conflicts
Social support
  •   Express   companionship, emotional support, or advice
  •   Provide   support when problem arise (such as when having technical difficulties)
  •   Talking about   things other than class work

Hrastinski studied two e-learning classes that were given the same tasks. In the first group communication was synchronous (chat during three hours) and in the other group communication was asynchronous (discussion board scheduled over a week). He found that in the class with synchronous communication the exchange in the three groups content-related, planning of tasks and social support were more evenly distributed than in the class with asynchronous communication. In the class with asynchronous communication almost all exchange was content-related.

Hrastinski suggest the concepts personal and cognitive participation. Personal participation is higher in synchronous e-learning and increases arousal, motivation and convergence of meaning. Cognitive participation is higher in asynchronous e-learning and increases reflection and ability to process information.

My own experience of attending an on-line course that had only asynchronous exchange is very positive. It suited me because I was already motivated to do the course (social support not necessary), instructions were clear (planning tasks not necessary), and I could not spend much time on the course. Therefore the time I spent was almost entirely content-related. I was amazed of how much I learnt in a short time. For me it was a revolution and one of the reasons why I want to attend this FDOL course. I want to spread this fantastic way of learning much in short time.

However, I cannot expect everyone do be as unsocial and having such scarce time as me. In the skill of planning an on-line course I must also have some theories and tools for planning both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Also this was given in a nice table in Hrastinskis article:

Asynchronous e-learning Synchronous e-learning
When?
  • Reflecting on   complex issues
  • When   synchronous meetings cannot be scheduled because of work, family and other   commitments
  • Discussing   complex issues
  • Getting   acquainted
  • Planning tasks
  • Discussing complex issues
  • Getting acquainted
  • Planning tasks
Why?
  • Students have   more time to reflect because the sender does not expect an immediate answer.
  • Students   become more committed and motivated because a quick response is expected.
  • Students become more committed and motivated
    because a quick response is expected.
How?
  • Use   asynchronous means such as e-mail, discussion boards and blogs
  • Use   synchronous means such as videoconferencing, instant messaging and chat, and complement with face-to-face meetings
  • Use synchronous means such as videoconferencing,
    instant messaging and chat, and complement with face-to-face meetings
Examples
  • Students   expected to reflect individually on course topics may be asked to maintain a   blog.
  • Students   expected to share reflections regarding course topics and critically assess their   peers´ ideas may be asked to participate in online discussions on a   discussionboard
  • Students   expected to work in groups may be advised to use instant messaging as support   for getting to know each other, exchanging ideas, and planning tasks.
  •  A teacher who   wants to present concepts from the literature in a simplified way might give   an online lecture by videoconferencing.
  • Students expected to work in groups may be advised to use instant messaging as support for getting to know each other, exchanging ideas, and planning tasks.
  • A teacher who wants to present concepts from the literature in a simplified way might give an online lecture by videoconferencing.

Probably synchronous e-learning is better for some people and asynchronous e-learning is better for others (like me). Does anyone have any reflections or tips on literature on different learning styles and different conditions (time, language) in accordance to synchronous and asynchronous e-learning? I would be thankful for such reflections and tips!

References:

Hrastinski, S. Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Educause Quarterly. Nr 4 2008 https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0848.pdf

Haythornethwaite, C. “Building Social Networks via Computer Networks: Creating and Distributed Learning Communities” in Building virtual Communities: Learning and Change in Cyberspace, Ann Renninger and Wesley Schumar, eds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp 159-190.

Annonser

4 thoughts on “Collaborative learning and communities”

  1. Hi Anna,
    I also liked reading the article of Hrastinski. Many things fell into place. I like that it gives examples and a structure for e-learning. I agree with you that when you have little time maybe asynchronous learning might be better, you can do things when it fits your own schedule. However, synchronous learning may help to facilitate the asynchronous learning activities.

  2. Thank you for a great reflection Anna!! Asynchronous teaching & learning/communication in a course is a way as I see it to bring flexibility and accessibility to a class whether it is online or complementing the f2f- classroom. It, as you write, gives time to think, reflect and formulate your thoughts before sharing them.

    I think it might be easier to be personal in a chat or in a personal meeting but I do not believe that the asynchronous form needs to be unsocial (think about facebook), I guess that would depend more on the culture of the learning community.I do however believe, that it might be a bit easier to create that social presence within a course if you have met the other course participants once and that you perhaps will need longer time to develop a base for collaboration if that is not the case.

    About teaching with different languages/learning styles etc. Jude Carroll has written a great book about how to teaching international students, below you see a short article with some of here ideas.

    Mia

    Carroll, J. (2002). Suggestions for teaching international students more effectively. Learning and Teaching Briefing Paper Series, Oxford Brooks University.

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