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Encouraging student collaboration

Introduction

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Collaboration in online environment can be messy, students might not know how to communicate together let alone work as a team, and once technical issues (which can be most prevalent) are added into the mix, it can feel like too much, too hard and not worth the effort.

So why do it?

Haythornwaite (2006) identifies collaborative learning as beneficial as it gives the opportunity for students to build knowledge together and share a variety of perspectives on content related issues and problems. This can add depth and richness to the learning experience. From a social perspective, it can build community online as student engage in peer-to-peer learning. This is often helpful for students studying off campus, providing connection and a sense of belonging. Collaboration also provides the opportunity to build professional skills for students, such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking - all relevant for the workplace today (Kinash, McGillivray & Crane, 2017).

Planning for Collaboration

Planning a good structure including to how you envisage the collaboration will work in the Zoom session is important as it will make the session flow. This includes technical and instructional components. As a online facilitator in the Zoom environment, this also includes the little things like planning how you will give instructions to students for collaboration, as being clear and succinct will signal to students exactly what is expected of them. See the topic ‘Purpose, intent & planning’ and the ‘lesson plan template’ for more information.