Friday, March 23, 2012

In response to week 9's facilitation article

In response to week 9's facilitation article, I thought it was interesting the difference between “collaborative learning” and “cooperative learning.” To summarize here:

Cooperative learning
  • “can be more efficient than collaboration,”  
  • knowledge is shared rather than constructed, and the instructor maintains authority over both the students' processes and learning. 
  • “in this method of learning, students typically are assigned (or may assign themselves) roles toward completing a task for which the instructor has an end result or "answer" in mind.”

Collaborative Learning:  
  • empowers students, all the authority over both the process and the product is transferred to the groups,
  •  the "answers" are not predetermined, knowledge is socially constructed through meaningful conversations between students.
  •  The article authors conclude that instructors using this type of learning “need to be able to explain, interpret, and guide our students to a place where these processes become deeply embedded and no longer have to be learned and relearned with each new course and instructor.”

This made me think of all the online/semi-online courses I’ve taken. I wondered which type of learning we used. A couple came to mind…

English 211 – In this class, we met physically and had online forum discussions for the readings. The discussions were rote,  and only filled a participation requirement. Conclusion: Cooperative learning.

Engl 315: Writing for the Web – understandably, this was an online course, which I took when I spent a semester in Indianapolis. One of our main projects was to form groups and create a website for a non-profit. In the end, my group divided up tasks and submitted the finished pieces to our group leader (it was an ambitious project—you can see where it is today here: looking much better than it did 2 years ago.) It was probably “collaborative learning.” The processes did not “become deeply embedded and no longer have to be learned and relearned with each new course and instructor.”

Engl 333: Professional and administrative writing – also taken at Indianapolis, this class was half online, half in-person. As groups, we went through a business simulation project, preparing proposals, business plans and RFPs. This was a collaborative learning. In-class, the professor reinforced techniques and objectives of each part of the simulation. We had a small textbook to go with it, and applied everything we learned to the simulation assignments. Most of the material was pretty easy to retain…I think the key was that we had a whole semester to learn how to work in our group, and we read and discussed articles about how to function and work well in diverse groups.

Anyways, there’s my blast from the past. Have your in-class group projects fallen into cooperative or collaborative categories?

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