GIVEN this new normal ushered in by Covid-19, online teaching and learning is here to stay. While this asynchronous mode has brought advantages, internet unavailability, inaccessibility and non-functionality in many areas of our country is a stark impediment to achieving the goals of Agenda 2030 — with its theme of inclusiveness — "No child left behind." On the positive side, many of our young are digital natives, hence are adept in sharing information across networks.
(OCL) — Online collaborative learning. Collaborative on-line learning (CoL) composes small groups of two or three learners learning together using the information communication technologies of the Knowledge Age, particularly the internet. They plan together common learning goals, mutually searching for "understanding, solutions, or meanings, or creating a product." Wherever the internet is accessible, available and functional, CoL is possible. CoL activities are a great way to actively engage students in their own learning; help them develop higher order thinking skills, give them freedom to work at their own pace and control over their learning achievements (Allen & Seaman, 2013). This boosts students' confidence and self-esteem as well. CoL can help "foster community and counter potential feelings of disconnection or isolation; at the same time help students take shared ownership and responsibility for their learning." (https://ctl.columbia.edu ›... › Teaching in All Modalities)
Origin of OCL. The Knowledge Age with the almost omnipresent internet has opened more doors for CoL across networks. Pedagogy expert Harasim (2012) referred to computer-mediated communication or networked learning as "on-line collaborative learning." (https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/6-5-online-collaborative-learning/). "The concurrence of both constructivist approaches to learning and the development of the internet has led to a particular form of constructivist teaching." "Constructionism learning theory supports knowledge as better gained when students construct it by themselves...." "When we experience something new, we are not merely passive receivers of such an experience." We reflect on it and try "to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant." We become "active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know. (https://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept 2class/constructivism/)
OCL in the classroom. The constructivists' learning view has bred different teaching practices. Constructivism "usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they do with their learning and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure he/she understands the students' preexisting conceptions and guides the activity to address these ideas of students leading them to build on their ideas" (https://www.thirteen.org › edonline › constructivism). When students learn to build knowledge the teacher's role links the students to "the knowledge community, or state of the art in that discipline." The teacher sees to it that learning is "guided by the norms of the discipline and a discourse process that emphasizes conceptual learning and which builds knowledge." (https://tell.colvee.org/mod/book/view.php?id=647&chapterid=1158)
Making OCL work in one's classroom. OCL does "not aim to replace the teacher, but to use the technology primarily to increase and improve communication between teacher and learners, assisted and developed through social discourse. This social discourse furthermore is not occasional. It is managed in such a way as to 'scaffold' learning." (https://open textbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/6-5-online-collaborative-learning/) OCL teachers encourage students to work together in small teams of two or three, collaborate, discuss, debate to achieve an activity's goal they are working on. Part of student assessment could actually come from their peers, based on appropriate rubrics they have learned to use.
Community of Inquiry. More complementary to the OCL model is the Community of Inquiry Model (CoI). Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) defines CoI as an educational group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding. The authors argue that there are three essential elements of a CoI: (1) "social presence," referring to "the participants' ability to identify with the community" (based on a study plan), "communicate purposefully and develop interpersonal and trusting relationships;"(2) "teaching presence" — "the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes" and (3)" cognitive presence" — "the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse." (https://opentextbc.ca/teaching inadigitalage/chapter/6-5-online-collaborative-learning/).
Summary. Based on the experience of online instructors "not necessarily influenced by either the OCL or the CoI literature," are some other design principles" "associated with successful [online] discussions. One, technology use that allows for "threaded discussions." Two, enforced "code of student conduct on on-line behavior to guide on-line discussions participation." Three, orientation of students "on the purpose and guidance in discussions." Four, giving students tips for "respectful discussion" referencing gender, religious affiliation, provisions on bullying, etc. Five, defining clearly "learner roles and expectations such as requiring (definitive) outputs with set deadlines" (essays guided by rubrics). Six, "monitoring the participation of individual learners and commenting accordingly by providing the appropriate scaffolding or support to help students develop their thinking around the topics, and referring them back to study materials if necessary, or explaining issues when students seem to be confused or misinformed." Seven, "regular, ongoing instructor 'presence', such as monitoring the discussions to prevent them getting off topic or too personal and providing encouragement for those that are making real contributions to the discussion, heading off those that are trying to hog or dominate the discussions, and tracking those not participating, and helping them to participate." (https://opentextbc. ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/6-5-online-collaborative-learning/)
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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines most accomplished educators and experts on higher education institutional management, studied in top universities in the Philippines and in Germany, Britain and Japan. She held top academic positions at Xavier University, the Ateneo de Cagayan; was presidential appointee after EDSA 1986 to normalize campus operations in state institutions and served 17 years thereafter as SUC president. She is internationalization office director and professorial lecturer at Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include the CHEd Lifetime Professional Achievement Award, The British Council Valuable Services Recognition Award, the Federal Republic of Germany Order of Merit, and the Department of Education award for her initiatives as a pioneer member of the Philippine Teacher Education Council.