Topic 3. Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning

Networked Collaborative Learning. A catchy lineup of three words I’ve encountered endless number of times. But I must admit, that only now that we are leaving topic 3 that I’m starting to grasp the meaning of their combination.

If YOU (reader of this blog) have any doubts, I will highly recommend you to start by watching ‘Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm?’ (by Alfred Birkegaard & Katja Gry Birkegaard Carlsen), a thrilling documentary exploring how the Internet is changing the ways in which we do science and create knowledge!

Our PBL group with the scenario work week surprisingly started quite smoothly. We were well prepared for the task and we enjoy to use the FISH model to ventilate our initial thoughts on the scenarios. Not surprising, we are well trained at that by now! This time it was my turn to step forward and co-chair the discussions and the progress of the work. But this time, our facilitator made it clear… This time it is not just a matter of putting it all together. We were expected to use a collaborative spirit in our learning, and make 1+1>2!

Our task was suddenly shifted to creating an effective collaborative learning group (Brindley, 2009).

 This brings me to the fascinating concept of networked individualism I read about and which describes the way digital technologies can enable individuals to develop new networks that are unique to their own learning needs (Rainie, 2012). Living in the evolving world of networked individuals expands personal relationships beyond households and neighborhoods, and transforms work into less hierarchical, more team-driven. Individuals are encouraged to create and share content, ultimately changing the way we perceive information.

How to get us learners to recognize the value of becoming part of a learning community? and how can we get us to collaborate in a way that makes use of all the diverse competencies that our group members bring into the work?”


We tried to address those questions within our PBL group. We structured the work in three phases, which allowed as to find synergy between our individual ideas and at different phases during the progression of our work on the group task.

 We Initiated our group work on a shared google document. To approach the issues posted in the scenario, we agreed to perform an analysis of our own ONL162 course. We identified key elements of the course linked to Networked Collaborative Learning. Focusing on a learning prospective, we also attempted to figure out the purpose with each element. We examined the structure, content, material, use of collaborative elements, use of digital tools, community based learning, small versus larger groups, webinars, learning blogs for own reflection, interactive webinars and more.

To find out more about the added value of teaching in an online learning context (Anderson, 2008), learning in communities, networking and collaboration, we went on to build a survey and to collected feedback around the ONL course. Writing the questions to be included in the survey was the most difficult part. What do we ultimately want to know from them? And what kind of metrics should we aim for to collect the feedback? Below are the questions we ended up selecting:

 Based on your previous ONL experience as facilitators/co-facilitators:

Q1: How do you get people to really recognize the value of becoming part of a learning community?

Q2: How do you get people to collaborate with their peers in a way that makes use of all the different competencies that group members bring into the work

Q3:  How do you tackle the following challenges?

(a)- if one person in the group happens to be familiar with a tool, then work lands in her/his lap?

(b)- if one person in the group is silent and not actively participating in the group?

Q4: Finally, any words of wisdom from an experienced facilitator/co-facilitator to a novice course leader willing to introduce collaborative elements into his/her teaching/learning activities?


If, you are curious about the results of this survey, you will find a summary in our Group8  prezi presentation: If carried on to the next generation ONLers, there is a chance that this survey to get more valuable, providing the large ONL community with a temporal dimension to these collected data.


The highlight of those weeks was to me the #ONL162 tweetchat (Creelman, 2015). Finally, I could find a motivation reactivate my Twitter account and may be get a new taste to this fast and sharp communication tool. One thing is clear, I need to learn typing quicker to qualify for our next tweetchat.


Together, let’s continue to learn in this community and create unique “patchworks” out of our individual ideas!




‘Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm?’ (by Alfred Birkegaard & Katja Gry Birkegaard Carlsen, 2014)


Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 343-395). Athabasca university press. Available here.



How to take part in a Twitter chat. Alastair Creelman (2015). Available here.


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). Available here.


Capdeferro, N. & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International review of research in open and distance learning, 13(2), 26-44. Available here.


Rainie, L. & Wellman, B. (2012) Networked, The New Social Operating System Available here.


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