High vs. Low Collaboration Courses: Impact on Learning Presence, Community of Inquiry, and Social Networking
Researchers demonstrated a relationship between learning presence and social engagement; however, research in this area is limited. For example, no distinctions are made as to what role faculty, students, or technology might play in facilitating social engagement. In general, researchers revealed that students’ ability to self-regulate leads to more focused attention, time on-task, and in turn, these skills could lead to better learning. Given the need for more theoretical work in the area, as well as the potential practical benefits from the use of these pedagogical strategies, we sought to compare the difference between high versus low-collaboration groups on assignments, as well as courses in general. Differences in groups were measured using student grades, peer evaluation, pre and post test, and the community of inquiry framework. In addition, learning presence and social network analysis were used to assess a high-collaboration assignment.
In the current study, we explored how collaborative technologies, specifically Google Docs and Google Hangouts, may be used to impact the level of learning presence (forethought and planning, performance, and reflection) students demonstrate while participating in a small group project. Participants were graduate education students in two randomly assigned sections of the same online course. The course content focused on basic educational psychology for students seeking initial teaching certification. The experimental section utilized a high-collaboration project (e.g., small group, Google Hangouts and Docs) to enhance understanding of course content while the comparison, control section employed a low-collaboration project (e.g., partner activity, Word documents) to enhance understanding of course content. Participants completed the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Survey at the end of the term which measured their perceived level of teaching, social, and cognitive presence during the course. Quantitative content analysis was used to explore occurrences of learning presence in the high-collaboration group. *Finally, we employed social network analysis (SNA) as a method of inquiry to analyze student interaction data with the high-collaboration group. SNA is used to explain relationships depicted by information flow and its influence from participants’ interactions. Scholars have used SNA in the online learning context to understand individual and group dimensions of interactions.
*Social Network Analysis (SNA) will not be addressed in this presentation but will be included in the manuscript.
Emerging Technology in Online Learning Symposium
Las Vegas, NV. July 26, 2012
Lead Presenter: Karissa Locke (Google, US)
Tess Milligan (Google, US)
Mark Green (Simpson College, US)
David Wicks (Seattle Pacific University, US)
Courtney Step (Seattle Pacific University, US)
Kami Cottrell (Seattle Pacific University, US)
Hear from professors and students pioneering the use of Google+ for collaborative learning, discuss best practices, and leave equipped to enhance your Google experience with Google+.
Original version of video posted on YouTube by Karissa Locke.
I am working with others at Seattle Pacific University on an Active Learning classroom project similar to the one at the University of Minnesota. Click on the image above to see a Photosynth of what the classroom looked like on August 9, 2011. The floor plan is shown below. Click on it to see an enlarged view.
In this classroom, students will collaborate around rounded tables (called pods) as the professor moves throughout the room. Each pod will have its own LCD display on a nearby wall where a group member can connect his laptop for use during collaboration. The professor’s podium workstation will be in the center of the room, allowing her to be roughly equidistant from all pods in the classroom. The professor has the ability to control what each group is seeing on their pod’s LCD display. She can share a presentation from her computer, or let each group control their own display. The professor can also share one group’s display with the entire class. Eventually, all of this will be controlled from an iPad app so that the professor does not have to return to the center of the room to change the input. The app being considered is not expected to be ready when school starts.
The furniture is portable. Each of the six tables can be split into three sections and rearranged for lectures or student presentations.
There is still a lot of work to do. Classes start at the end of September. Here are some of the questions I have. I would appreciate any feedback or additional questions:
- Are there too many tables in the classroom? Right now, there are six tables, each which can seat 9 students. Is there enough space between tables for the instructor to move around? For a wheel chair? Enough space to limit the amount of carry-over noise between tables?
- The Photosynth image shows one of the LCD displays on the same wall as the projector screen. Will that be distracting to students? Will all students at this pod be able to see their display?
- Is the display placement correct? Are they too high for comfortable pod viewing? Are they too low and therefore taking up valuable whiteboard space.
- Is there enough room for instructors to walk all the way around each pod to help individual students?
- Are the tables large enough for nine students to fit comfortably around them with all of their stuff? Would it make more sense to limit tables to seven students? This might make it possible to create a dead side on each table, allowing tables to be closer to the walls, thereby generating more space between pods.
- The Photosynth image shows one wall with whiteboard paint. I like the idea of having the room covered with whiteboard paint as it increases opportunities to visually share ideas. However, is the finish on the walls smooth enough for this to work effectively?
- The Photosynth image shows the long side of the podium as being parallel to the projector screen. On the floor plan, the long side of the podium is perpendicular to the projector screen. Is there enough room to move around if the podium is parallel? Will the podium be awkward to use if it is perpendicular?
Thanks for any ideas you share. It’s clear to me that our main priority now is to help faculty explore options for redesigning their courses to take advantage of this new learning environment. We need to know who is teaching in this classroom and get to work.
Presentation from the 2010 Sloan-C Online Learning Conference in Orlando, Florida.
- How to set up and organize teams in Bb.
- Options for using wikis within/outside of Blackboard.
- How to use a specific collaborative tool (EtherPad).
- Describe the application of a semantic web technologies in a collaborative learning environment.
- Report the results on student learning.
- Provide recommendations for future research and applications of semantic web technologies in educational environments.