Wednesday, October 16, 2013

O Sole Mio

Much is made of the value of collaboration in online learning. Harasim (2005) categorizes collaborative learning as "the most powerful principle of online course design and delivery" [cited in Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p. 157); Draves (2002) calls it the "heart and soul of an online course." And Certo, Cauley, and Chafin (2006); Watson and Battistich (2006); Oosterhof, Conrad, and Ely (2008); and Frost (2013) are among the many who place collaboration squarely at the heart of online learning communities.But some people prefer to fly solo. Some learners find collaboration difficult (even stressful) and don't believe a group project allows for a valid assessment of individual effort.

Here's my question: If the learning objectives are not dependent on a collaborative effort, should learners be allowed to opt-out of group projects? What (if any) is the potential harm to the learner and the learning community? What (if any) are the potential benefits?

In your response include at least one potential disadvantage and one potential benefit for the learner and one of each for the learning community. Be sure to cite resources in your response.

You may download the rubric for this discussion here.



Certo, J., Cauley, K. M., & Chafin, C. (2002, April). Students' perspectives on their high school experience. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Draves, W. (2002). Teaching online (2 nd ed.). River Falls, WI: LERN Books.
Frost, S. (2013). The advantages of working in groups in the workplace. Retrieved from:

Oosterhof, A., Conrad, R.-M., & Ely, D. P. (2008). Assessing learners online. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. (Palloff, R., & Pratt, K., Promoting Collaborative Learning, Building Online Communities). Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used with permission from John Wiley & Sons Inc. via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Watson, M., & Battistich, V. (2006). Building and sustaining caring communities. In C. M. Evertson & C. S. Weinstein (Eds.), Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues (pp. 253-279). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

1 comment:

  1. Collaboration is a great way to enhance learning but there can disadvantages as well as advantages. Collaboration is a great tool for learners and teaches them team concept learning which employers are looking for so not taking part is a disadvantage by losing out on this life skill. Collaboration is an advantage for the learner in the editing tools available and people being able to edit collaboratively on a single document. This allows the learner to take other people's advice constructively and enables them to continue growing academically. The learning community continues to be enhanced from a global perspective by the contribution of its learners which is a great advantage. But sometimes collaboration can be difficult in a learning community when there is dissension within its ranks through disagreement on a topic. It is important to have ground rules in everything you do as a group.