This topic tackles important subject for me – a community of inquiry which in my opinion is an essence of problem-based learning. I found the scenario very inspiring – especially the part saying: Mostly, we fall back into the group-work mode from school we divide tasks between us and glue them onto the same board when it comes to accounting of a group project. This underlines cooperative vs collaborative character of a group work.
Ron Owston during Online Educa Berlin 2016 gave a presentation about empowernment in HE which I found useful while thinking about effective collaboration. Empowernment is not only about engagemnt and motivation but about:
- flexibility to do the task (choice)
- care about the task
- feel confident we have the skills (competence)
- know that the task will make a difference (impact)
How to make students to be empowered in online learning? Owston claims that we can push the learners to be engaged, but we can’t push them to be empowered because we can only create a space to let them be empowered and take control of their own learning.
Taking above into consideration, when I reflect upon our ONL group 6 collaboration I’m quite convinced that most of us were empowered – we had flexibility, we care for our final result, feel or become confident of our skills (digital and subject-oriented), we were convinced about the difference – understood as a wide development as a main result of the course.
Designing good quality collaboration online requires the cognitive, social and teaching presence (Garrison 2000) to be considered in the context of teacher/facilitator as well.
So again, when I compare the facilitator practice with conditions for creating learning environment, listed by Owston, that supports being empowered learner, everything matches perfectly. Our facilitator gave as flexibility, but cared about us and our learning process, she gave us support and strenghtened a level of confidence (a group’s and an individual’s) on each stage of the course and finally she was convinced that the course will make a difference in our learning process and further pratice.
I also observed that the division of leadership did a great work. Even if the coordination is not my favourite role and is always a challenge for me, in ONL case it was a chance for everybody to try it, test it and feel that the workload was shared fairly.
I feel like we were empowered group 🙂