10.11 Social interaction and group dynamics in collaborative learning

Song of this day

In short about past times, when there was different paradigms concerning collaborative working. Everything is always questioned, and so is this field of study. There was problems like is collaborative learning really more effective than individual learning (effect-paradigm)? Then what factors does affect the conditions of collaboration (condition-paradigm)? And third thing which concerned the researchers was that what interactional processes occur in collaborative learning (interaction-paradigm)?

1. Defining collaborative learning

Well, our reminding discussion answered some of researchers worries by asking “what is collaborative learning and what is it not?”
+ It is shared understanding (sharing is caring). It is all about creating and sharing knowledge, and get the understanding of what everyone want to achieve. There must be interaction to create collaboration, but interaction can appear even without collaboration.
It is not individuals searching for information and trying to build an own understanding about the task. No sharing no caring, trying to be only one succeeding is not constructive in long sight and it will not build your teamwork skills (which are in fact widely needed in almost every job in the future). Sharing ideas with others brings new ideas!

Task I
Collaboration is a very special type of interaction. The question is what factors affects the success of collaborative learning, or, which factors are related to social interaction?
What affects collaboration:

  • Self-regulation, personality and the way of reflection
  • Motivation and emotional orientation (empathy towards others, own feelings)
  • Pre-knowledge (remember, same level knowledge brings rarely new ideas)
  • Communication skills
  • Listening skills

What you can do for better collaboration:

  • know your groupmembers – informal and formal learning – trust
  • take account to the different goals
  • discuss, discuss, ask and discuss!
  • help peers
  • have groupmembers with different backgrounds, this may result bigger ideas!
  • give and receive critical feedback (in good spirit )

The roles in groups molds automatically, by keeping these
ideas in head you might get a balanced group
that will result in excellent products!

2. Educational dimension of collaborative learning

Collaboration is as its best when everybody presents challenging questions that forces to participate. It is also good to keep up good team spirit, or in other words the WE CAN DO IT -attitude!

High level of collaboration= everyone is in and has something to do
Developing level of collaboration= try to tell your own ideas but won’t listen to others
Low level collaboration= individuals only tell their own ideas and gets back to them during the conversation (technology may help the teacher to see how the group is discussing and do they really have some kind of interaction. Doing this the teacher can participate for a while and get the group in right direction)

Successful collaborative learning has both group- and task-related discussions. Since CSCL is a common way to work, interaction online is also a part of many groupworks. This can happen synchronous, which means communicating and sharing in real-time (skype, chat), or asynchronous, when the conversations are first fully written, then sent and stored. Asynchronous gives pupils time to think about what they want to share (for example, I don’t publish a post in my blog before it is done). Teacher’s/educators role is to offer the best learning environments for students, and the groups can also compromise what they want to use.

Task II
Teacher/educator: Why is it important to understand the basic mechanisms of collaborative learning?

  • The result can seem good, but can be done only by one person. This can be prevented by having the same questionnaire for everyone, to get everyone see some point in participating. If not any this kind of final exam, then the teacher can at least make a questionnaire about how everyone felt about the groupwork, level of collaboration and the final product.
  • Even is the educator don’t need collaborative way of working, he/she should definitely be almost an expert in it to teach it forward to pupils. How can they do it otherwise if they have never heard about it? Then let them apply the knowledge.

These things doesn’t mean students should become independent
from the teacher/educator, but they should be a part of
building the information with the others.
Teacher is more like a guide.

3. Social psychological dimension of CL

Group dynamic has 5 phases: forming, storming, norming, performing and ending.

Groups are formed, then while storming members discuss the task and increase their common understanding. Then they decide how they work (norming), and what their rules and roles are (performing). They start working, and at the end they achieve their goal together.

Individual in a group gives always his/her own spice to the group. Also the group factors affect how the group is working. 5-6 members is a ideal amount of people, and it’s good if everyone feels that they need each others. Competition is not collaboration!!

The environmental factors that can affect the way of working is the physical distance, learning task and the tools that are available.
Challenges in group work is that there might be free riders, or students who are socially loafing thinking they don’t need to do so much. Sucker effect might also appear, that happens when there are too many free riders or bad team spirit – he/she declines doing anything.

Task III
How to improve groupwork, to avoid freeriding/social loafing, and how to anhance positive group processes?

  • Shared rules and respecting them
  • And again: self-regulation (affects everything!)
  • Try to understand why someone is freeriding, or if someone actually is freeriding (maybe learns best by listening)
  • discover if problem is caused by individual or the groupsystem
  • Try to have everyone involved, so one does not feel he/she couldn’t do anything (someone is pushing through with ideas)
    Collaboration (and learning) is always a social happening!

Also to remember: Educational use of technology:
The way technology can enhance social interaction and group work is that it improves self regulation, collaborative learning and learning of expertise. Self-regulation in learning enhances by working with others and by using programs/softwares which are designed for studying. Collaborative learning is proved to enhance pupils results in learning, and. ability to e.g share the same document makes it easy. Together pupils share their expertise and solve really complex problems = Experts together via collaboration!


27.10 Start-up meeting (my personal realize = DRS!)

First let’s get the right mood

Then, enjoy your reading
and let the LET theory course begin!

How to support good learning behavior
Things that support good learning are selfregulation (metacognition), self-discipline and relaxing.
Possible challenges in learning are to keep up the motivation, especially if the task is repeating itself. Motivation is hard to control, and it’s especially hard if you don’t understand the task properly or you don’t have clear goals and plans. A challenge is also to find good learning strategies. These vary individually, but as an example, a person who knows he/she learns best by making notes is maybe not learning the best way only by listening.

Real-life example, where these should be considered: my studies.
I’m about to begin minor studies at the open university, because the University of Oulu does not offer studies in those subjects I’m in to (e.g. marketing and organisation psychology). The courses are independent from time and place, so I get to choose when I want to study. It feels really liberating to study whenever I want and I feel really excited! BUT I will also have many difficulties to face. It’s actually good to have this theory course at this point, now I will remember how to improve my learning behavior.

-> Things I have to remember:

1. Why am I taking these courses? The question is important to keep up the motivation. I know I’m interested in many things, but I need to remember why these courses are especially important to me.
2. I also have to ask myself, how will I achieve my goal? I need to remember, that studying the last night before exam is not the best way to learn, instead I have to make up a plan when I’m gonna offer time to specific tasks. Keeping myself busy and knowing that tomorrow I won’t have time to do that pushes me to stick to the plan (self-disciplin). Not to forget the attitude I CAN DO IT!
3. But speaking of keeping myself busy, I need to set some limits to myself when not to study. I already knows how a burnout feels like (my body got sick and I had to go to the hospital). I’m one of the kind who learns the hardest way, I do too much and then I collapse. Now I’ve experienced how it feels to Try and Try without a good plan or strategy (without great results), so now I want to Do, Relax and Succeed! I’ve found the best learning-strategy for me, that is not to make a little by time but I reserve time from my schedule and focus only on that specific task.

Some practical tips
from the lesson how to adjust the motivation, emotion and metacognition in learning (remember, metacognition means the ability to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing, or ratherly in this concept the understanding of it’s own learning process. That helps to prevent the challenges in learning)

  • social support (peers, home, teacher)
  • to find a meaning to the subjects treated during the course
  • to find a strategy for learning, e.g. notepads or highlighting parts of text (cognitive tool)
  • to make a good plan about the learning process, which then includes all the things above, but also to be aware of the feelings towards that specific subject (regulation tool)

Improving SRL with technology
Technology has for a long time tried to be a part of improving self-regulation in students by offering different softwares, where the tasks can be completed and the program gives instant feedback of student’s development. This is a good supporting tool for the teacher, when there are 30-40 students per one teacher. The softwares function can also base on physical changes in humen. There are already programs under development which try to know how the person is feeling by analyzing their face-expressions. If the student seems bored, cheerfully comments can pop up or something else that encourage the student to keep going. Other softwares can read the persons heartbeat and temperature of skin to get a clue how the student is feeling. I think these can work, IF NOT used too often. Otherwise the student gets irritated, I would at least.

Teacher’s role is to support the pupils self-regulated learning. Making the task wide forces the students to collaborate and need eachother. Teacher may explain how the specific knowledge can be used in the future, and be aware of the students different styles of learning. Teacher should be like a boss in big industries: her job is to make herself useless by encouraging to search and share information together, not only to the teacher. Students can get help by different softwares that analyze the similarities and differences in groupmembers way of working. By knowing where the problem is, the problem can be solved.

Nobody knows the other person’s true way of thinking or learning and what his motivational bases are. That’s why it’s really important to tell about it to the groupmembers. To do this, every individual needs to be aware of their own way of self-regulation. Computer programs are invented to realize how the others are thinking, but remember: discussion about these things in good spirit results great collaboration and true learning!

Last lesson 17.10.2014, YEY!

Presentating our videos about “what did we learn during this course”.

Remember me telling I had to leave early from the lesson before? Well I think that was not a problem, the girls took care of the auditional side of the becoming video and then we made everything else together when we gathered around again. We really used plenty of hours to make our video “perfect”, and I’m glad everybody was honest with their points of views. Even thought some of us had a great idea, another could think about something else so we discussed about it and made compromises that delightet everyone.

We included themes of collaboration, new curriculum, teachers attitudes toward computer-supported collaborative learning, and the process towards it. We had an old teacher who wanted to teach in his own, traditional way but was mad when the kids didn’t like to listen to him. Then comes an other teacher with a solution: new curriculum! The old teacher feels lost and alone, but the new teacher shows how to do it and they work together to achieve this goal (collaboration). And they live happy ever after, both teachers and the kids are excited and happy and motivated (heart heart heart).

I’m not sure if I can link the video in here, so I won’t 😉

So this course was not only about technology in teachning, it was also about teaching methods (how people learn) and collaboration that is not yet truly highlighted by many professors at the university.
This course was super for me, teachers were great and I’m really looking forward for the coming courses. I’m glad I will havet this the whole year, this is something for me!

Blog task about friday (10.10.2014) lesson

Wow. I had to leave early, which is kinda sad because I didn’t want to miss anything.

Our task that friday was to create a presentation about what we have learned under this course. I’m glad I found peers to collaborate with. When I left, the girls stayed to pick up some music we can use in our presentation. The presentation will be short and made with PuppetPals, I will put the link here when it’s ready. It shows compact how we see what this course was about and what is collaborative learning, technology used in it and the attitudes towards educational technology.

Even if the video will be less than 5 minutes long, it took lot of time to make it. Especially the planning phase, where we wanted to make sure that everyone understand the task the same way. We used everyone’s skills to create this video, I was used to use PuppetPals, Jenny draw pictures and made the music, Johanna searched for good softwares to use and was the idea-rich person. A really good combination, I think, we really worked together and did not just put our own pieces in the presentation. Collaboration – again- as its best 😉

I look forward to see what the others presentations will look like, of course I’m terrified about if our video is bad and nobody gets the point that we mean to present. I can’t say more than let’s see that on thursday. Excited, I will write about how it went! 🙂

IV <3

Last friday’s (3.10.2014) lesson (ment to be jigsaw 3) was absolutely the best. Or at least I feel that way because our group worked fantastic together. Our task was to create a new educational environment, and we got this idea about season-based learning. To be honest, I could use that in real life.

At first the task felt terribly hard. We had this brainstorming phase, where everyone just shouted out ideas they got in mind. All suddenly one shouted out something about having school outdoors, but the other one said “no not under winter time” and the story began.Season

We created this idea about intensive learning and made a videofilm about it. I like the idea about being forced to put everuthing on a video, it increases the talent of planning what we actually want to tell the others (especially when the video was supposed to be 2 min long… we doubled it). We built up this idea together, and I feel that everyone were equally excited about the task, and it felt like everyone understood what we wanted to come out with (collaborative working in my opinion). We wrote down the lines and started the action. Fun, fun and fun. What could be a better way to build up the collaborative skills? Of course I didn’t realize it then, but now when I think about it I rarely end up in situations where everyone actually participates in the planning and action. That makes me confident about that I’m able to learn skills to make people open up when planning something (if I would work as a headplanner).

Yep, enough for this time, I’m just confused about what happened with our jigsaw. Gotta ask tomorrow from the teacher.

Blog task III

My view of educational technology have expanded again. This time our task under the jigsaw lesson was to share our thoughts with our peers that also read the same article. I liked it more than the first jigsaw, where we had to first tell about the article to others, then gather around with peers and then tell about it again to the others. Now our task was to make a video/presentation about the article, without us presenting it. So we were forced to use only “Explain Everything” app to create a working presentation, that was shown to everyone at the end.
I felt this was more about being collaborate, because we built up the information together, not trying to just explain it to others. I understand the collaborative point under the first jigsaw, but I feel that it didn’t quite work. It was more like a puzzle that we put together. It may have worked better for the other groups, I don’t know.

I think I picked the best article for me, it was about technology supporting collaborative learning. It had many interesting points about why technology is a good tool in collaborative learning. We found together the most important points which to put in the presentation, I couldn’t have done it better on my own. That’s collaboration as its best in my opinion.