Enriching learning through collaboration

Online learning is sought after for its perks–convenience and flexibility are chief among them.  However, it is not without its challenges.  The lack of interaction and socialization could deter some students from attempting this type of learning experience.  Palloff and Pratt note that “the online environment can be a lonely place…students and faculty alike report feelings of isolation when working online” (2007).   Collaborative activity can help diminish those feelings of isolation by “purposefully connecting learners with one another through various learning activities”  (Palloff and Pratt, 2007, p. 158).

Respond to the following:

Collaborative activities are often incorporated into the curriculum for online courses.  Group work facilitates learner-to-learner interaction which can enrich the learning experience.  There are some challenges associated with collaborative work in the online setting.  Give 2 challenges and offer a strategy for addressing those challenges.  In light of those challenges, is it worth it to incorporate collaborative assignments into the coursework? Why or why not?

Post your initial discussion input by Wednesday.

By Sunday, read through your colleagues postings and respond to 2 or more of them by:

  • asking a question
  • elaborating on a point they raised
  • offering a suggestion from personal experience

Learner-to-learner interaction provides another layer to the educative experience. Photo from leapagency.com

Access the discussion post rubric here.


Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 

2 thoughts on “Enriching learning through collaboration

  1. An online course can feel like you are working in a vacuum. It can feel very isolating. According to Palloff and Pratt (2007), “Collaborative activity can help alleviate those feelings of isolation by purposefully connecting learners with one another through various learning activities and promoting interdependence. Two challenges I see are nonparticipating group members and group members who take advantage of other group members. To ensure each member participates, it should be made known, up front and through the rubric, that individual participation will count toward each person’s grade – the grade will start at a baseline for the group, then depending on a member’s amount of participation raise or lower the grade accordingly. To help with group members who take advantage of other group members, keep as much of the group project in a public area as possible (like an instructor-moderated discussion board). This is not always feasible, but it is a start.

  2. Hi Asha, nice post, there’s a lot to think about here. I think one challenge when considering collaborative learning projects is the individual schedules of the students. Being online, many might not be one the same schedule, some may be on different sides of the planet. I think a solution for this would be to group students into similar time zones, if possible. Another challenge is under-achieving students who might let the other students in the group do all or most of the work. This one is harder, but continually monitoring and assessing the group and reassigning roles within the group might help shift the workload.

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