This week we learned about the online collaborative learning. Harasim describes online collaborative learning theory (OCL) as:

a model of learning in which students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer. While OCL theory does encourage the learner to be active and engaged, this is not considered to be sufficient for learning or knowledge construction……In the OCL theory, the teacher plays a key role not as a fellow-learner, but as the link to the knowledge community, or state of the art in that discipline. Learning is defined as conceptual change and is key to building knowledge. Learning activity needs to be informed and guided by the norms of the discipline and a discourse process that emphasises conceptual learning and builds knowledge.

(Harasim, 2012, p. 90)

When teachers are able to create a course that is well organized and encourages active participation and collaboration the OCL model can improve conversational learning, allow opportunities for deep learning, develop academic knowledge, and knowledge construction. Bates reminds us that discussion forums are not an addition to the curriculum, but rather the core component of the teaching. Bates says, “it could be argued that there is no or little difference between online collaborative learning and well-conducted traditional classroom, discussion-based teaching.”

When teachers successfully create an educational community of inquiry in the online environment, students are able to “collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding” (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000).

Community of Inquiry Image: © Terry Anderson/Marguerite Koole, 2013

With online collaborative learning, the aim is not to replace the teacher, but to use the technology primarily to increase and improve communication between teacher and learners, with a particular approach to the development of learning based on knowledge construction assisted and developed through social discourse.

(Bates, 2015)

… so how am I going use online collaborative learning in my course prototype with Grade 1’s? Hmm… honestly when I first started thinking about this question I was stumped. Creating a community of inquiry is rather challenging in the primary grades to begin with and takes a lot of practice, so to implement this successfully online will be an added challenge. Because of my demographic, we will be focusing on using one app to learn an master to encourage student-to-student, student-to-instructor, and student-to-parent interactions.

Seesaw allows students to share their work, and specifically encourage individual 3cqreflection and peer feedback. This will be modeled by the teacher and practiced as a group to ensure that feedback is meaningful and purposeful. The structure I plan to use to encourage authentic feedback is 3Cs and a Q. In the Seesaw app, teachers have the opportunity to review any comments before they are posted to ensure that feedback is constructive & appropriate.

Seesaw will also be used to collect work and give direct private feedback to students. I plan to push assignments to students for them to complete and turn in via Seesaw, creating a place where students and teachers can interact around their work. The beautiful thing about this app is that while I am busy with other students during guided reading, I can still see what students are working on after they submit their assignments and post to their account.

Lastly, Seesaw will allow me to communicate with families and keep them in the loop on the learning their child is doing at school. Students will add posts to Seesaw that they are proud of in a self directed way, as well as work their teacher has assigned allowing families to provide immediate feedback during the day or ask them about it that evening.

I feel like Seesaw really fits my purpose of my course module and allows me to create a community of learners that support each other and learn from each other in an online environment.



Bates, A.W., (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age. Tony Bates Associates Ltd.

Garrison, R., Anderson, A. and Archer, W. (2000) Critical Inquiry in a Text-based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education The Internet and Higher Education, Vol. 2, No. 3

Harasim, L. (2012) Learning Theory and Online Technologies New York/London: Routledge

2 thoughts on “Online Collaborative Learning

  1. Hi Kristina! Seesaw sounds like that perfect way for you to connect with students and parents and create a lot of communication between you all! Have you used it before this course? I think it sounds great and I love that you will be doing this with grade ones. Maybe if they learn how to make appropriate feedback for their peers now, it won’t seem so daunting to them when they are encouraged to do it when they are in high school. Would you ever consider taking the moderation off of the comments between your grade ones? This is something that scares me as a high school teacher, so I’m curious if your feelings are the same with your little ones!

  2. Hey Shelby! I haven’t used it before this course, but I have heard great things about it. I’ve pretty much been on back to back maternity leaves, so I feel like I’m a little bit behind tech wise (I’m usually one of the leading tech people, so this is very different for me).
    I really do hope that by introducing peer feedback and teaching this skills from grade 1 will help students when they get to HS!!!
    I would consider taking off comment moderation. When I used to be in a Grade 3 class I didn’t moderate the comments and they did amazing! We did a lot of practice on paper before hand and they knew what was expected. I’m a firm believer of teaching digital citizenship and hope that helps with comments. The one positive about comments and tech is you have concrete evidence of what was said and done vs. Comments IRL.
    Thanks for reading!

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