Three Steps to a Collaborative Learning Environment
The aim of my project is to produce a self-contained module for my trainee teachers. As you are not trainee teachers I shall explain what I am doing, rather than expecting you to do it. (but if anyone wants to do the activities feel free to post them on OpenStudio!)
There is research evidence to suggest that a learning environment which maximises interaction between tutor and students and especially between students, results in effective learning. So how could we go about achieving that?
Click the thumbs up button if you would say that you get your students collaborating (if you teach students!)
This is the premise that my project is based on. The challenge is to get your students to see the benefits of this approach, and to feel comfortable with it.
Collaborative learning activities, peer assessment and closing the feedback loop are all interrelated. They are the ingredients of what is sometimes called a constructionist learning environment. Or sometimes it’s called peer learning, a conversational framework or a learning dialogue. Other theories are available!
Firstly, collaborative learning. Basically, this is all about students collaborating to produce an end-product. As Laurillard says, The emphasis is on learning from each other, testing ideas and giving constant informal feedback to each other. Your reaction to this approach will depend on how much flexibility you have in how you teach.
I would like to show you a brief clip of a piece of work which two of my students produced together in college. (my student is the one on the right!)
I shall play a 20 second video clip of two students’ video produced collaboratively
This is one way of getting students on an online course to work together. Perhaps for you and for your students, this could be the first time that you have had to display an open state of mind, to use Weller’s phrase.
Other ways of collaborating online: discussion forums, video conferences (rather like what we are doing now, but on a smaller scale), wiki etc
As several of my peers on H818 have pointed out, working together can take a bit of getting used to. In my project it is important to strike a balance between enthusiasm for the idea of collaborative learning on the one hand, and the risk of taking some learners too far outside their comfort zone
Do you see the student’s reference to ‘good feedback’. That is integrated, intrinsic feedback, not feedback as a stand-alone activity.
At this point, in best OU fashion, I would get the trainees to relate some of the ideas to their own practice.
Dave and Simon have offered to mark these activities if you would like to have a stab at them after this conference!
One of the issues I have to consider is that my students work in a wide range of organisations and have a wide range of vocational contexts. Some work full-time in colleges, others work as trainers for public and private organisations, some are educated to degree level, others have vocational qualifications.
For many of them, the philosophy my project is based on would be a radical change of culture and pedagogy.
Peer assessment blurs the boundary between comment, feedback, evaluation and assessment. Again, for some students it will require a cultural change to get used to doing this.
I accept that peer assessment is almost always going to be informal and formative. It has the great advantage that it avoids what Carless calls the tutor-student power structure. Peer feedback is more intrinsic to the learning activity than tutor feedback alone.
A great example of peer feedback in action.
Who can tell me who these people are? Type it in the chat.
Here are some issues for the trainees to think about.
In my experience, students are quite happy to be critical of their peers. Their evaluations of their peers’ micro-teaches are assessed
But several of my peers on H818 have expressed the view that it can be quite hard to be critical of your peers. What do you think?
(Add poll questions)
- over-positive and encouraging.
- rather negative and discouraging
- A useful mix of praise and suggestions for change
…and some activities again related to their own teaching context. Can you see that vicarious learning is going on here? i.e. My trainee teachers are experiencing the very activities which they are being encouraged to use with their own students.
Of course, there will still be a place for tutor feedback Tutor feedback is not going away.
How can you turn the feedback process into more of a dialogue to maximise its effectiveness?
What forms of feedback do you have experience of?
This is an example of written feedback where I am trying to avoid just a top-down approach; the question is now how will my student respond? How can I and my students close the feedback loop?
I try to model good practice by asking questions in an effort to get a dialogue going – but it is annoyingly easy to slip back into a top-down approach.
Oral feedback could of course be just as top-down as any other form of feedback. But there is evidence that for some students it is more likely to be effective. Giving individual students choice about how they would prefer feedback might make it more effective.
I have been giving students videocast feedback. What you see here is a screenshot of such feedback.
And I shall play a brief extract from some video feedback I have recently.
Here are some ideas for making the feedback process more of a dialogue. Some make use of technology.
Of course, suggesting that collaborative learning is just 3 steps away is an over-simplification. But if student interaction lies at the heart of learning, exploring the potential of these 3 steps will pay dividends
Please type one of these numbers to give me a quick straw poll.