Kelly, Bob (September 16, 2011). Fostering Collaboration in the Online Classroom. Faculty Focus, Retrieved October 3, 11, from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/fostering-col...
Kelly reported about a professor who he interviewed for Online Classroom, Glenda Hernandez Baca coordinator of teacher education at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Campus. Glenda encourages the use of collaborative learning throughout online courses.
Baca points out that online instructors should make collaboration mandatory. She offers the following words “If you can do something practical, students are going to be so much more engaged. It helps illustrate why it’s important.” Students who are not required to collaborate online, probably won’t unless they find the topic interesting and something that they can relate to.
Baca also notes that students should have plenty of advanced notice about the collaborative projects that they will be working on. She suggests that online instructors open up discussion about the project a month before the project begins. This allows to students to have the time to have any questions answered. This process also helps to release the stress that some students have about collaborating online.
Another suggestion that she has for online instructors is to have the groups make a plan. Who will guide the group? She requires that all of the groups submit some kind of “a collaboration plan”. This collaboration plan includes questions such as the following. “What technology tools do you think will work best? How do you think this project will be best delivered to the rest of the class—as a Web page, wiki, or PowerPoint presentation?” She wants the students to think about these questions before the project instead of at the end of the project.
Her last suggestion is that online instructors must become involved with the students while they are working on the project.
Baca makes the following statement “If you’re going to ask students to participate and collaborate and be engaged, you need to be responsive to that and let them know how that comes into the bigger picture of the class and their learning.” This is very important because without feedback students will not see the value.
These are all very good suggestions and very important for those of us who choose to teach online.