In our PBL group, we have discussed about collaboration and if there are any differences between collaboration in digital environments and collaboration face-to-face. The only actual thing that differ is the lost of body languages in some digital environments. Apart from that I can´t come up with much… or maybe also the thing with asynchronous communication. Benefits of asynchronous communication is the possibility for reflection. In digital environments collaborative interactions is made possible by discussion forums, synchronous and asynchronous chats. By comparing the two types of discussion (synchronous / asynchronous) in the digital environment Watson and Sutton (2012) argues that the asynchronous communication is to prefer thus it allows the participants to identify, examine and reflect about problem areas in peace and quiet before sharing their thoughts with others.
Another aspect of collaboration, which has nothing to do with digital environments, is the fact that you have to collaborate with others. You are support to interact with “not of your own choosing-peers” (Brindley et al., 2009). One basic idea with peer-to-peer learning is student activity. The glue of the learning activities the peers are expected to work with is the common goal the peers are sharing. However, in all group work you have to respect the autonomy and independency of the learner. I think this is delicate and a balance act to keep in mind when striving for enhanced learning outcomes. Nevertheless, collaborative learning can contribute in addition to cognitive social learning and motivation to include emotional development. Group processes such as conflict management and feedback are essential ingredients of teamwork and prepare for future cooperation (De Hei et al., 2015). As Wenger (2010) claims, learning is the product of social structure and the learner is a social participant. After all we are only humans…
Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).
De Hei MSA, Strijbos J-W, Sjoer E, Admiraal W, (2015) Collaborative learning in higher education: lecturers´ practices and beliefs. Research Papers in Educ, 30(2), 232-247.
Watson S, Sutton JM, (2012) An examination of the effectiveness of case method teaching online: Does the technology matter? JME, 36(6), 802-821.
Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice(pp. 179-198). Springer London.