I think that when one is enrolled in an online course and participating in a group community then each member needs to be an active participant. Members will be more active in the community if they have to complete a project together as opposed to only helping and working with each other on individual projects. This is where it is important that members have developed a working relationship with one another and feel safe to work along each other.
Every member has a different background which brings insight to the group to help everyone gain different perspective and understanding. It is also possible that some students will have prior knowledge of the topic, which will help the others learn. Everyone has a role and has a piece of the puzzle that they can contribute.
As a teacher, I know that my students are different and they are able to contribute differently and that is what I expect and what one needs to fully understand the topic and perspectives of others. A teacher hopes that through the dialogue between members that one who doesn’t know as much is able to learn from the other group members. A member who knows more information will also receive a benefit as they must express their ideas and what they know to the other members in a way they understand. Everyone benefits from a group that managed correctly and effectively.
I realize that it is important for all group members to collaborate, but we must also be understanding that students have other responsibilities, jobs, families, other classes and members should not be expected to be online all of the time. I think there needs to be clear expectations and everyone adhere to those expectations. If you have a member that is not participating according to those expectations then it is up to the other group members to find out if everything is ok with that group member and see if they need additional help.
If there is no group project and collaboration is used as a community to help each other then I think that it is respectful for everyone in the group to at least expect members to check the group twice a week just to check on members and see if they can answer questions of the other members.
I am pretty sure that many of us taking this course have jobs, families and busy schedules and it is difficult just keeping up with everything we are doing, so I feel that everyone must be understanding of each other’s busy schedules. At the same time, everyone chose to take the course and everyone needs to find time to meet expectations set by the group.
If a member is not completing their group requirements and members have tried to reach the member then the group would then be responsible for going to the professor. The professor may have insight on the situation and thus determine the action that needs to be taken.
All in all, I think the main question is to ask is the group activity or group discussion an extra activity or does it actually serve a valuable purpose. If it is just an extra activity that takes time then maybe this needs to be considered, especially if the student seems to complete all required assignments. If the student is having difficulty with assignments then maybe the student does not understand material and just needs more direction, which could be given through the groups as long as the group is helpful and safe. All of these things are important to determine whether the professor is going to be understanding or lower the student’s grade due to not meeting expectations of the group.
- The New Collaboration (edtechdigest.wordpress.com)
- Collaborative, Cooperative, Group, and Open Plan Learning Spaces (creativeducationow.wordpress.com)
Ponder University’s high regard of community aligns perfectly with the vital ingredient of distance learning, community. Online learning allows individuals to experience a close-net community that is impossible in the face-to-face environment. The World Wide Web has made the world seem smaller, which opens the realm to making personal connections and a professional learning environment fostering relations across the Globe.
Students will continue to grow in their relationships with fellow students as they are engaged in small groups and are able to share personal stories through he use of a student lounge. Social Activism is stressed during the beginning of each course students will have the opportunity to share their story and their goals (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). Wikis and blogs can also be used to build teacher and peer relations. As each student shares it allows others to make and create connections, which will grow as individuals persevere through assignments, projects and discussions. Students will supports and collaborate with each other as their knowledge builds through he course.
It is common as one begins working in a community and as one begins forming relationships, conflict is inevitable. Conflict is the key to learning; therefore small group projects allow individuals to work, grow, and collaborate together. Conflict is bound to happen which prospers learning and compromise (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).
Distance learning promotes independent thinking allowing students to think and research before responding to peers and/or discussions (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). Everyone has an equal opportunity to learn through his information, media, and postings of others. Introverts will perform better in an online environment as opposed to face-to-face. It is easier for an introvert to post when they have had an opportunity to study and research before creating an answer (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).
The online learning environment truly benefits every individual and will promote the ultimate learning environment. Ponder University will continue to share ideas with staff and students, but instead of a quarterly tea the university will use a wiki to provide a continuous dialogue among everyone involved which can grow and develop.
Ponder University’s yearly student faculty debate will continue as a virtual debate that will engage and increase student learning as they must collaborate in groups to create their case. The yearly debate will continue to be something everyone looks forward to see and participate in the online video debate.
As you can see Ponder University and distance learning have the same values that are vital to their existence, which is why Ponder University staff and students will be able to see the immense benefits of going online. Every single individual deserves to be able to learn in an online environment, so each student can feel accepted and have the ultimate advantage of having a professional community which supports each other.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of Distance Education. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Oblinger, D. G., Barone, C. A., & Hawkins, B. L. (2001). Distributed education and its challenges: An overview. American Council on Education and Educause.
Palliff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007) Building online learning communities. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Boss.