Benefits and Challenges of Collaborative Learning in Online Teacher Education

Benefits and Challenges of Collaborative Learning in Online Teacher Education

Vassiliki I. Zygouris-Coe (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8009-6.ch002

Abstract

Demand for online learning is increasing in US colleges and universities. Learning does not occur in a vacuum; students learn independently and collaboratively. But, is there room for collaborative learning in online courses? This chapter presents information on how a teacher educator designed and implemented collaborative learning in a developmental reading online course for preservice and inservice educators in grades P-12. The author presents details on course design issues, instructional practices, benefits, and challenges associated with collaborative learning in this online course, and implications for further development and evaluation of collaborative learning in teacher preparation programs. The author also provides recommendations from lessons learned for promoting collaboration in online teacher education courses.
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Introduction

In this chapter, I will describe how collaborative learning was designed and incorporated in a graduate level online course in reading for preservice and inservice educators. The purpose of this chapter is not to formally assess or evaluate collaborative learning; instead, I will present my rationale for incorporating collaborative learning experiences in an online education course, the ways in which collaborative learning was incorporated, assessed, and monitored, and lessons learned about benefits and challenges associated with collaborative learning in this situated context. I will also reflect on the role of collaborative learning in teacher preparation courses in the context of 21st century learning. Collaborative learning can support online and teacher preparation learning goals and objectives by promoting critical thinking skills, perspective taking, shared knowledge and decision-making, content knowledge, and reflection.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pedagogy: The art, science, and profession of teaching. Also refers to philosophy, beliefs, and strategies of instruction.

Andragogy: The study and science of adult learning.

Learning Community: A group of people who share common interests and are actively engaged in learning from one another.

Instructional Practices: Teaching and learning techniques and activities.

Constructivism: A type of learning theory that views human learning as an active effort to construct meaning in the world around us. Constructivists believe that actual learning takes place through accommodation, which occurs when students allow new information to change their existing ideas or knowledge.

Collaboration or Collaborative Learning: Refers to the process of co-laboring: a group of people working together toward a common goal(s).

Social Presence: Refers to the ability of participants in a learning community to project themselves socially and emotionally as “real” people, through communication.

Engagement: The process of active participation in a learning task. An engaged learner is actively participating, thinking, and questioning, in the learning process; he or she makes connections to existing knowledge and experiences and is reflective about learning.

Online Learning: All forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. The delivery of training or an education program by electronic means. Online learning involves the use of a computer or other electronic devices and means to provide training, educational, or learning material.

Student-centered Learning: Learning that places the student in the center of the learning process.

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