Strategies for Facilitating Peer Collaboration in the Online Classroom

Strategies for Facilitating Peer Collaboration in the Online ClassroomStrategies for Facilitating Peer Collaboration in the Online Classroom

Reflective Journal: Collaboration in the Online Classroom

By Day 7 of Week 6

Part 1: Select three strategies for facilitating peer collaboration in the online classroom that you would like to implement. Write a paragraph about each, explaining why you selected it and how you plan to use it in your future professional practice.
Part 2: Add three (or more) annotated bibliographic citations of helpful resources you encountered during this module.

SOLUTION

Strategies for Facilitating Peer Collaboration in the Online Classroom

Collaboration learning has been used over time to enhance learning outcomes. It brings together students with different needs and abilities and ensures they acquire as much knowledge as possible. Collaborative learning can be done face-to-face or online. These modes of learning, especially online learning,

come with their own fair of challenges that require different strategies to counteract them (Muuro et al., 2014). Some of these strategies include providing access to resources, giving technical assistance, and ensuring instructor presence.
It is important for instructors to provide access to resources such as learning materials prior to the class to ensure students follow.

For instance; an instructor can provide hyperlinks and websites where students can get information. This is especially important in giving slow learners adequate time to go through the information. As mentioned above, collaborative learning may involve students with different learning capabilities.

Exposing all students to online learning may bring a situation where some students dominate discussions and learn quickly while the other group lags behind (Wendt & Rockinson, 2015). This is because instructors cannot physically manage the class and observe different students.

Providing other resources like internet connection may also be important in cases where students do not have already. In my future practice, I intend to properly plan my lessons and provide students with all the necessary resources.
Another important strategy involves giving students technical assistance to facilitate learning (Muuro et al., 2014).

Learners may not always be conversant with some of the technology used in online collaborative learning. For instance, an instructor may use learning software that may be too complex for learners which would affect the learning outcomes. Technology is constantly evolving, and new online learning modes continue to emerge.

For this reason, technical assistance is very important. Technical assistance may also be necessary where the topic of discussion may be unfamiliar or too complex for the learners. Instructors should help explain such topics and make it easy for learners to discuss. In the future, I intend to have a well outlined technical support guidelines which I will use when the need arises

Instructor presence also plays a significant role in enhancing this kind of learning. Instructors set the pace for the discussions through questions, instructions, and providing feedback on the progress (Zhao et al., 2014). Having an instructor means having a neutral person who all the learners can identify with without feeling awkward or afraid.

It is not common to see group members having an awkward silence because they have no idea how to start a discussion. For this reason, the instructor’s presence helps break the ice. There could also be incidences where learners get into a disagreement or get in heated arguments because of differing opinions.

Instructor presence helps to regulate discussions and ensure they are healthy (Zhao et al., 2014). However, instructors should keep in mind that their presence should only complement the learning process and not be a hindrance by causing more tension.

I intend to give adequate support to my students and participate in their learning activities without affecting their learning. This can be done by preparing a teaching plan that highlights how and when I can be involved in the process.
In conclusion, the success of online collaborative learning requires a coordinated effort between learners and students.

Different strategies may work for one group of learners and not work for the other. It is essential that instructors tailor their strategies to suit the needs of a particular group.

Annotated Bibliography
Wendt, J. L., & Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. (2015). The effect of online collaboration on adolescent sense of community in eighth-grade physical science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24(5), 671-683.

Wendt and Rockinson’s social constructivist researcher and education professor respectively draws their research from the need to understand how online collaboration learning affects different groups of people. Their research asses adolescents in different learning environments, both face to face and online.

The research examined a group of eighth-grade science students for a period of two months using experimental and control group approaches. The experimental group of students took part in different surveys to share their experiences in online learning.

The controlled group continued with face to face learning. The findings from this study showed the different challenges that online learning students faced. On the other side, the face to face students seemed to have developed a stronger learning community where they could all relate well.

Zhao, H., Sullivan, K. P., & Mellenius, I. (2014). Participation, interaction and social presence: An exploratory study of collaboration in online peer review groups. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 807-819.

Zhao, Sullivan, and Mellenius (2014),study involved six peer groups that used computer conferencing in learning. The study sought to understand how online group learning affects social interaction and presence.

The researchers highlight the fact that instructors assume that learning always occurs in collaborative online settings as long as there is an instructor. Contrary to this belief, the study findings indicate that learning can only happen if the involved learners are willing to participate and share knowledge.

Participation, however, does not guarantee collaboration. From this finding, instructors should group students in a manner that will allow participation and collaboration.

Muuro, M. E., Wagacha, W. P., Kihoro, J., & Oboko, R. (2014). ‘Students’ perceived challenges in an online collaborative learning environment: A case of higher learning institutions in Nairobi, Kenya. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(6).

This study examines forms of distance learning that were used in the previous years — such included TV and radio, which provided very little interaction and feedback that is necessary for learning. The study explores innovations such as the World Wide Web and online learning modes that improved learning processes.

The increased access to these tools brought an increase in the interests of students to pursue distant learning. The researchers, however, highlight the different innovations that may be used in different settings. For instance, they highlighted that countries with proper infrastructure might find this kind of learning convenient as compared to countries without it.

The study was done among university students across four universities in Kenya through a questionnaire. From the feedback, the researchers concluded some of the challenges learners faced in this learning. Some of this included lack of adequate feedback, technical challenges, and uncoordinated discussions. From this feedback, instructors should be able to put in place strategies to ensure learners benefit fully.

References
Muuro, M. E., Wagacha, W. P., Kihoro, J., & Oboko, R. (2014). ‘Students’ perceived challenges in an online collaborative learning environment: A case of higher learning institutions in Nairobi, Kenya. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(6).
Wendt, J. L., & Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. (2015). The effect of online collaboration on adolescent sense of community in eighth-grade physical science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24(5), 671-683.
Zhao, H., Sullivan, K. P., & Mellenius, I. (2014). Participation, interaction and social presence: An exploratory study of collaboration in online peer review groups. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 807-819.

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