LOLA: A Collaborative Learning Approach Using Concept Maps

LOLA: A Collaborative Learning Approach Using Concept Maps

Patricia Lupion Torres (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-992-2.ch001
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Abstract

The Online Learning Laboratory, LOLA, is a collaborative learning methodology for classroom-based and distance learning that was defended in a PhD thesis and used in several subsequent research studies. In this chapter the author describes the first results of a case study undertaken with students on a postgraduate course in education. A further activity (the construction of a concept map) was added to the six activities in LOLA, and its inclusion was the object of this study. The methodological approach used in this research was a case study with an exploratory objective. To answer the questions raised in the study, a new review of the literature related to the following subjects was carried out: restructuring, implementing and following up the online learning laboratory methodology using concept maps; drawing up and applying a questionnaire; and analysis and discussion of the data obtained. A nonprobabilistic convenience sample was used. Their analysis and preliminary considerations focus on the data gathered from the students.
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Collaborative Learning In A Virtual Learning Environment

Cooperative and collaborative approaches are frequently confused both in terms of what they mean and the concepts involved. This failure to distinguish between them may be due to the similarity between some of the principles that characterize them. Both approaches are based on active learning involving the sharing of experiences between the actors in the teaching-learning process; the combining of individual and social skills to produce knowledge; the taking of responsibility for one's own learning and for that of others; and respect for the diversity and heterogeneous nature of the members of the group (Matthews, Cooper, & Hawkes, 2004).

In spite of this and other similarities, there are fundamental differences between the two approaches. They differ in terms of the role, authority and degree of intervention of the teacher; the hierarchicalization of the teaching-learning process; the construction and assimilation of knowledge; the way in which the groups are organized; and individual and group responsibility for the activities (Matthews, Cooper, & Hawkes, 2004).

The idea of cooperation in the teaching-learning process is known to date back to classical antiquity, but it is only in modern times that it has come to acquire greater importance. Under the aegis of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm, cooperation has lent itself since the 18th and 19th centuries to professional education and the preparation of students for life in society. Because it leads to more structured, controlled activities through a more hierarchical process, cooperation has very often been used as a technique for group work.

In the beginning of the 20th century, with the emergence of the movement known as the New School, the concept of cooperation gained strength. Various educators in this movement, such as Profit, Freinet, Cousinet and Ferrière, started to include cooperative activities in their methods. Particularly worthy of note is the work carried out with cooperative groups by Dewey, who proposed that citizenship and democracy should be exercised by means of work in groups and interaction with fellow students.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Learning: Collaborative learning is a student-centered methodology for learning. By working in groups, students’ knowledge is constructed by their participation and interaction. This is achieved by becoming involved in activities aimed toward a common goal. It solidifies socialization not only “by” learning but also “in” learning.

Eureka: PUCPR’s collaborative virtual learning environment developed since 1995 in partnership with Siemens. In 1999 it became fully functional and started being used by the university as a support for its online education. It now has more than 30,000 students in its nearly 8,000 classes.

Interaction: The process that emerges from the participation of all learners that interact among themselves by means of information, points of view, queries, and ideas that occur in a learning environment.

LOLA: Online Learning Laboratory, LOLA, is a collaborative learning methodology for classroom-based and distance learning that was defended in a PhD thesis and used in several subsequent research studies.

Collective Knowledge Construction: Knowledge constructed collectively by students engaged in collaborative or cooperative activities.

Interactivity: Process that emerges from the participation of all learners that interact among themselves by an active dialogue, a constant exchange of information, points of view, queries, and ideas that occur in a learning environment.

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