Collaborative learning in an online environment

I like the reflection here in Collaboration Online . Jenny writes:

“Can tutors prepare students for this – Yes, of course – good teaching doesn’t change just because it’s online. Obviously there are things that you can do face-to-face (like a science field trip to study rock pools on a Northumberland beach) that would not be possible to capture in exactly the same way online, but an awful lot of what we do face-to-face can now be done online.” 

Collaborative learning is both an art and science, I suppose.

It may not be for everyone, especially when people don’t have liked minds, or not willing to share with each other, or that there are some personality crashes. That is human nature.

So, it is challenging especially if it is to be done online.  Sometimes there may be conflicting views, arguments or strong criticisms between people, and such connections and interactions may result in alienation.

It could also be one of the most difficult tasks in this world, as people have different needs and expectations.

If one is mixing and matching each other (learners) to collaborate, then some socialisation and consultation would surely help all parties.

A metaphor for collaboration is love formation and development amongst couples.

During dating, the lovers would think they could work things out together upon meetings and engagement. This is in preparation for the marriage forthcoming. After marriage, the partners must collaborate to ensure a happy family. Otherwise, that would lead to separation or a divorce.

I have witnessed such happy and unhappy endings with face-to-face and on-line learning. So, as an educator, we could facilitate such “matching” if possible, but that we must let go of the thinking that it would always work.  Collaboration could be complex and emergent in nature.

Adaptation, consultation and a flexible mindset in collaboration would help us (educators) to cater for the learners’ needs.

So, would this be any different from the learning situation and environment, especially with the on-line situation, where trust and commitment (and reciprocity) is crucial to the success of collaboration?

Learning and education in a world of networks

I echo with Jay’s ideas in his picky picky

The important transitions are in how people interact with one another, networked business structures, instantaneous communication, collaborative intelligence, and the demise of the industrial era. This is earth-shattering stuff, and it doesn’t do it justice to frame it as a mere transition in corporate training.


Current theorists acknowledge that learning is a social process supported through meaningful interaction with resources in the learning environment (Perkins 1992; Resnick 1989).

With the introduction of internet, Web 2.0 and social networks, knowledge and understanding have been created and recreated more readily and spontaneously.  We could examine large bodies of information and determine what is worth knowing. (Gardner 1999, 53).

Such a learning ecology provides us with the opportunity to explore various resources over the networks, to make personal choices, to assume responsibility, to reflect on our thinking and learning, and to further practice important interpersonal and cognitive skills (Perkins 1992). 

It’s an ongoing cycle of personal development that is rendered more readily through the exploitation of new and emergent technologies.  It’s personal learning networks blended in social, corporate and business, education and political networks that transform the world of education and learning.

We could witness such changes accelerating at an astronomical velocity, spearheaded by the early adopters, amongst  those ICT entrepreneurs like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace, Tweeters, Delicious and Wikis, Blogs etc.; business users, educators and learners. 

 The coming launch of Google Wave would further test our responses to new ICT and its application in social networking,  education and businesses.

May be such “transformation” has caught the corporate world by surprise, especially within the last decade. With more “informal or natural learning” taken hold in social networks, higher education and corporate businesses; corporate, natural and formal learning  and education has taken roots beyond the systematic planning cycle or mission statements of most businesses and communities.

Here we have Education and Social Networks.

It’s blossoming, it’s pervasive. 

It’s simple in concept but complex in reality.


Gardner, H. 1999. The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York: Basic Books.

Perkins, D.N. 1992. Smart minds: From training memories to educating minds. New York: The Free Press.

Resnick, L.B. 1987. Education and learning to think.  Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

The artistic side of the design of our life

Here are the Googley Design Principles:

1. Focus on people—their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people’s trust.
10. Add a human touch.

What a wonderful set of “Design Principles”!  How could we apply them in our instructional design – via  Tweeters, Facebook, Blogs etc.? 

People like simple, quick, and easy to understand information. 

Information and knowledge in our world needs to be untangled in a creative and attractive way, preferably weaved in a virtual world that could attract everyone’s attention to immerse into.  

How about my sharing of these 10 ideas on the design and knowledge of our life?

1. It’s the simplicity out of complexity that gives understanding of the nature and that of life.

2. It’s the artistic nature of knowledge expression and emotion that stimulates our interests to interact and communicate.

3. It’s the richness of information and knowledge that fulfils our curiosity.

4. It’s our imagination, innovation and creativity that fulfils our dreams.

5.  It’s our desire to learn individually or collaboratively that leads us to create and explore this wonderful world through the different learning spaces.

6.  It’s our passion of learning that shines.

7. It’s the divine that opens our doors of wisdom.

8.  It’s the connections and interactions with our divine and each others that opens up and changes our mind.

9.  It’s our family, our friends, our neighbours or colleagues that makes us happy and smile.

10. That’s the love and harmony that we all aspire.