Digital Event

Discussion & Collaboration #altc2011

Yvonne Bain, Uni of Aberdeen

Working on a project, not with her own learners.
In 1989 were talking about the possibilities of computer mediated learning. Notion that is woven in – do people really engage with the thinking of others and come up with something different?

Tensions in literature – were students really using the benefits of e.g. Asynchronous discussions. Not looking to compare online/offline, but really what were people experiencing in the online environment.

Not convinced by Laurillard – but agree that not enough agreement on what online learning is so how can use.

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What approaches students use when asked to engaged with online.
What are their perceptions of online discussion impacting on own learning/learning of others – did they find it collaborative?

History of Art & Theology – courses already running, not new
Grounded approach – not going in with a set of theories.


  • Encouraged students to think of things they just hadn’t considered (prompt)
  • Everyone involved, not just tutor (but peers) telling you it was wrong.. Tend to be directed to another source to consider
  • More freedom to be ‘off the wall’.


  • Frustration if they put a message on but others didn’t – nothing to interact with, or putting own answers and forgetting the discussion aspect of this.
  • Not unique to theology – but more noticeable

Mismatch between what was the perception and what was actually happening. One student said ‘allows more discussion’ but delayed responded so no ‘discussion’, just responses.

Benefits – evidence of reflection (time to think before responding), making thinking known to others, evidence of learning of others/understanding topic of discussion.

Emerging framework of reflection, articulation and engagement with others.
See thread of discussion starting to build up.
Covert & overt processes – not just self-directed, work with others.

Get learners involved in this process – responsibility for their own learning, rather than a disassociated task. Student saw self as ‘getting it wrong’ if staff responded with further suggestions.

Highlights that lurking restricts individual & group opportunities.
Goal – action-feedback cycle.

Unconnected actions may have informed thinking elsewhere. Can we articulate that? Conversations brings that out…
Assessment didn’t force all to engage… More evidence but still not all.

The accompanying proceedings paper.

Danny Arati, Intel (corporate affairs, non profit)

Sustainability = main focus of this project…
10 million teachers trained in 10 years – vision for student centred classroom, in over 60 countries – looking for problem solving, critical thinking & collaboration skills (not about ICT – that is a tool, not about selling – looks at ALL tools).

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Have programme success indicators – unable to do less project based learning – not supported through national curriculum so no impetus (2015 – collaboration will appear in (a report) as a measurable.

Uptake low in UK, but high/passionate in Germany.
2004 – blended learning was quite revolutionary at the time

Moodle based: ‘the learning path’. Pedagogy driven – eg project based learning/field trip – then look at tools to solve the problems. Using open-ended problematised questions in a collaborative setting. For Ministers of Evidence = proof of education.

Trained peer to peer, allowing around 40 hours training (what was seen as worth accreditation, tho thinking is now that shorter courses are more welcome). In Europe many schools finish at 1pm so teachers have time for marking/planning/training.

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Leadership & innovation academy (find URL)
Specifically in the UK allows peer to peer and self-assess progress.

France – pairformance – originally confidential as private-public partnerships were frowned upon, 4 years later Minister for Education publicly announcing how pleased with this partnership – feelings have changed.

Germany – they like to have a mentor on the course

Measurable positive aspects on teachers & students. Cultural differences in outputs & what incentivised.

Collaboration across countries constrained because standards vary. Community building – New interface coming on

Information provided – must be free =non profit.

The accompanying proceedings paper.

This blog entry was written live in session, with photos/headings added afterwards.

By Digital Fingerprint

Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture  in the third sector (especially faith). Author of 'Raising Children in a Digital Age', regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.

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