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Learning module – Cooperation: Changing perspectives and social learning Fevereiro 26, 2010

Filed under: ppel — helenaprieto @ 2:57 pm

1- Changing perspectives

In nowadays society, knowledge creation is more and more a social construct. Learning to work in groups whether in distance learning or face to face environments is a challenge for most people, in particular for adults who have developed their own efficient and successful study and working habits. Still, there is much to be learnt and obvious advantages of group cooperation and collaboration. However, adults have to manage the constraints of having to adjust and manage their personal time tables (work and family time) in order to fit in with the demands of lifelong learning.

New communication technologies, allow for more flexibility in time, space, content, process, access.

One of the things I found rather interesting is that by using web 2.0 tools we can make possible cooperative freedom because we can create personal learning environments and share ideas, documents and so on, work and learn in groups and be connected to everyone involved in the teaching/ learning process.

Cooperative fredom simply wouldn’t be possible without these fundamental tools which allow a great flexibility in the learning process mixing self paced and group paced learning.

I think it is important to learn on our own – search and read information, think about it – but it is also important to have other people’s point of view on the different subjects. It’s enriching and stimulating.

As for flexibility, self paced learning offers great flexibility, because we are in full control of our time. Time management and organization skills are very important when we are on our own, and we have to be good at it, otherwise we may fail the deadlines!!!

But in virtual learning environments,  such as this one,  there are a great deal of flexibility too , because the communication is asynchronous. We are in a class, not alone. But we can access whenever we want to or can and it is a good thing to have other people’s feed back.

In this cartoon, the initial resistance to group work is successfully overcome with the help of communication technologies. Also, the feeling that the individual can participate with her ideas and work on her own time, space and pace is crucial for the change in perspective.

Cooperative learning

cooperative learning

















2- Online teaching techniques:

There are many different online teaching techniques. All based in communication technology applications.  Some online teaching techniques  are centred on students individual work and others promote group work based learning  activities. This recent social dimension on distance learning courses is only possible due to the new communication tecnologies that allow everyone to communicate and interact wheteher in an asynchronous or synchronous way.   According to  Morten Paulsen (2003),  in the chapter Online Educational Terms of Online education and Learning Management Systems retrived from www.studymentor.com . Online teaching methods are classifiyed according to their level of interaction: One-alone,one-to-one; one-to- many and many-to-many.

This short video aims to introduce briefly the online learning techniques of each category.

However, most of them support group based work collaboration strategies. In the following cartoon I focus on the ones used to foster cooperative learning .

Online teaching techniques for cooperative learning

Online teaching techniques for cooperative learning

3- Learning partners:

 To promote cooperation, transparency is key. At institutional level , in higher education, an experiment was put forward at NKI. In the article Learning partner oportunities for cooperation in distance learning,  Torhild and Morten Flaten Paulsen explain how  the open web catalogue was created through students personal. This web catalogue is the key foster an innovative experience – learning  partners.

This learning object attemps to explain the advantages of having/being  a learning partner. It is meant to be a sort of an advertisement. 








4- Final reflections:

In this learning module I’ve tried to give a logical order of the evolution of my findings through the readings I’ve done and the outcomes that are the learning objects. I felt that some improvemets were needed in the LO2 , as my reviewers pointed out.  Some expansion on it was made through another cartoon on toonlet .com which I added here to make the bridge between LO2 and LO3. The cartoon doesn’t attempt to describe all online learnng techniques. Instead, I choose to refer the ones which we used most in this C.U and the ones that support Cooperative freedom.

I’ve also  based the dialogues on the articles Learning partners for cooperation in distance learning by torhild Slaato and Morten Flate Paulsen publish in 2006 in elearningeurope.info; Social networkingsites : transparency in online education by Christian Dalsgard.

I believe that in this way I was able to produce a coherent learning module, making the most of the original learning objects.

Hope you like it and find it useful.


Transparency – promoted or implicitly in learning processes?

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Cooperation and transparency

Cooperation and transparency

Answering to the questions proposed by Sandra:

 How do you promote transparency in your online education courses. Do you promote transparency at all? How do you do that? Do you think it is important? Do you have any real life examples of how transparency promotes the online students’ success?

 I leave these comments: Through net works such as this one (FaceBook) or with posts on your personal blog we make our work visible and open to other people suggestions, comments, additional info and so on. Basically we build resources that can be shared by everyone. So in that sense I think I can say that I promote transparency. I think transparency is a great way to improve our work, to learn better, being in tune and up dated, share information, doubts solutions and also created knowledge and share knowledge. If we consider that learning communities are knowledge hubs, than transparency is very important because it makes visible both the content and the learning process. For me personally it has been a great challenge and I realize the improvements of my personal learning process as well as of other colleagues. There are many real life examples on how transparency can improve learning, both related to online learning and to face to face learning whether in more formal or informal learning contexts. In informal learning contexts transparency is implicitly a key success factor, for example, when learning to cook by watching how other are doing it. In school for example, I encourage my students to show their work and share their doubts and propose solution for other colleagues to improve on their work. I found that sometimes it is better to have an assessment from their peers than from the teacher. It also promotes more autonomy in learning, because they share learning processes and improve learning skills by mimicking other colleagues behaviour.

I’ve been paying attention to the way people also learn out of the formal institutional context ( school) and I’ve noticed that many of the learning processes are aquired by sharing information, by watching how others are doing it  – the learning process is often more important than the final results.

For example, in learning things like sports, household chores (cooking, knitting, sewing) driving, repairing things. All these are more easily learnt by watching how others do it and mimicking the process. These are implicitly very open or transparent learning processes.

In distance learning environments, transparency  is only possible when everyone involved in the learning process want to do it openly. Sharing not only content but also the way to the results – the process.

In fact, the more I think about transparency the more I realize that its very important to learn or improve learning skills.
We can see this process in action in the way everyone worked and improved on their learning outcomes.
Personally, I’ve learnt a lot from my colleagues work and from their leanring objects and reviews.


Personal reflections Fevereiro 21, 2010

Filed under: ppel — helenaprieto @ 9:00 pm

I’ve been doing my personal reflections as required in Unit 4. And I thought of sharing them with the class. This final work was done in a sort of reflection paper. I also wated to try some other tool to publish it. I had tried issuu before but that too didn’t allow the embedded directly into this blog. So I went on trying yudu. It did work a little better but not the way I was expecting. But here it is, and now you are welcome to comment on it.
Click to view the full digital publication online

YUDU Library – Embed by http://www.yudu.com


Reviewed annotated bibliographies Fevereiro 20, 2010

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After updating and rewriting some aspects of the annotated bibliographies I’ve decided to make  a small booklet that I’ve published in Issuu to make it easier for people to see and read it through. This way I think it is easier to follow a kind of thread and evolution in the topics covered in each bibliography.


LO 2 When students become teachers Fevereiro 9, 2010

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When searching for another tool to produce a learning object for this unit, I came across glogster, and since then I’ve been telling everyone about it. I find this tool really interesting and funny to use. It is also very flexible and we can adjust the presentation to suit a more funny style or to a more clean and professional look. It is also possible to use it for Portuguese. I’ve tried because some one in the forum said that it didn’t work in Portuguese. Well I found out that the teacher version does. And you can see another experience in Portuguese
[gigya width=”650″ height=”880″ src=”http://edu.glogster.com/flash/flash_loader.swf?ver=1265635534″ quality=”high” flashvars=”sl=http://edu.glogster.com/flash/glog.swf?ver=1265635534&gi=4893200&ui=2348683&li=3&fu=http://edu.glogster.com/flash/&su=http://edu.glogster.com/connector/&fn=http://edu.glogster.com/fonty/&embed=true&pu=http://edu.glogster.com/blog-thumbs/2/4/89/32/4893200_2.jpg?u=ae24ed24f941b0419f618466c8239203&si=13&gw=6,5,0&gh=8,8,0″ wmode=”window” ]


Self-paced vs group paced – Freedom of time Fevereiro 7, 2010

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Freedom of time – a personal insight

When I first thought about enrolling in school again, I had a very vivid notion that it would take a considerable amount of time and that it would not be easy to coordinate everything – my professional life and  my family life – As I’m a teacher in a highschool, my timetable is always changing and the subjects I’m teaching are very demanding in preparation time because I’ve got to do a lot of research to prepare the lessons. Lately I’ve been teaching some interesting subjects but they are not my speciality. The internet has been a wonderful source of information, but still that information has to be transformed and worked on and all that is time consuming. Furthermore, we have to attend meetings of all kinds, most of which we only know in short notice. On top of all my timetable is not very organized. Lessons are scattered throughout the day and night. To coordinate all this takes an extra effort and every year is different and I’ve got to adjust my rhythms and organize the time accordingly.

Having all this in mind, I thought the best choice was an online course. One that allowed flexibility of time, pace and could also be a challenge.

When I came across this course, I thought to myself that it could be a good thing and I enrolled.

I had already had an experience in distant learning when I took a 50 hour course in Using dictionaries in language teaching. Though this was a different experience. The model of the course was not online and it required that I took an exam at the Open University in Lisbon. But that was OK.

I could study and revise for the exam in my own time, and exchange ideas and  talk with another colleague at school. In fact we were both in the same situation – couldn’t enroll in face to face courses because we didn’t have time, we were both teaching in the night shift and most of the formation course are at night too. So, we decided to try this course. It was a nice experience and worked well. We worked own our own and when we met we discussed our doubts. And we both did ok in the final exam.

I think freedom of time and space along with pace are a plus in distance learning.

It worked very well for me.

Still when this course started it was a surprise and a challenge. we could work in groups, had the information we needed at our fingertips ( so to say), or could search for it on our own or in a guided manner. It was very motivating and a bigger challenge. But much more rewarding because we could discuss it with other colleagues and share our thoughts and doubts. I’ve learnt a lot about using CMCs to communicate and work online in groups. 

Asynchronous communication allows freedom of time and pace because it makes it flexible. All the time I could spare and make I invested in solving the tasks and learning about the technology parts which are integrated. This flexibility was very important to me. I think this is a great advantage in distance learning as compared to f2f learning models.


Annotated bibliography (3)-Transparency for a better cooperation and learning gains Janeiro 8, 2010

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Cooperation is best achieved through transparency. The information that people in a learning network share among themselves in different levels ( personal, social and in learning itself)  is vital to promote insights of the students and for the other students. This information whether put forward through personal presentations or through the work ( writings, blogs,films…) people produce, helps foster cooperation and better understanding of other people’s interests and learning processes along with their skills, frustrations and developments.  There for, transparency means exposure – making yourself  known to other people. So how much information and what kind of information should a student or teacher expose?


In the article Students and social networking: Should you “friend” your students ? Kathryn Linder, M.A discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of interacting through networks to creat learning communities. She also points out some boundaries and guiding lines to follow in order to protect yourself from too much exposure.

George Siemens in his blog Connectivism, published an article ” Teaching as transparent learning”   where he argues that transparency is a building process – a sort of work in progress – . Using blogs for instance some known theorists and teachers put to debate some ideas and thoughts which will develop through the multiple contributions of other people.

Here are some key sentences :

Making thoughts and ideas visible and sharing developments makes learning more transparent.

By seeing others learning we can also learn.

When we are making learning transparent we become teachers ourselves.

Another interesting concept related to transparency in learning is that people with similar cognitive architectures tend to understand each other better and learn from each other better because they can relate better.

Assuming that this is true, learning from learning partners is a plus in the personal development of everyone involved . People can learn a lot from more skilled and knowledgeable partners but they can also learn by sharing thoughts ideas, doubts, frustrations with their peers – people on the same level of knowledge as them.

In Learning partner opportunities for cooperation in distance learning by Torhild Slaato and Morten Flate Paulsen , the term learning partners is defined and a practical approach how we can be and have a learning partner is explained clearly.The article explains how a system of finding suitable learning partners is built and put to work and the gains it represents to online students in terms of learning and socializing. This article is also an account of a successful experience put forward at NKI
In creating a learning networks a personal presentation is key. Many personal presentations come together to make an open web catalogue  for NKI which is the cornerstone of the process of finding, inviting, accepting ( or not) learning partners.
How much information and what sort of information should there be on these personal presentations? That is left for the students to decide. Students are responsible for the amount and type of information they wish to show about themselves and they also invite other students to become learning partners. The invitation can be accepted or refused. Having a learning partner is not mandatory. Be or having a learning partner is volunteer and it’s student’s personal choice.
Creating a learning network based on personal presentations has been an important step towards adding an effective and efficient social dimension to the online learning process where learning is supported by other students. It is a learning experience in which both parts profit by sharing knowledge, thoughts and ideas .

The article by Christian Dalsgaard entitled Social networking sites: Transparency in online Education  , explains how personalization and socialization , central characteristics of social networking  sites can facilitate transparency between students giving them insights into each other’s work. He points out that the starting point is individual or personal.

People don’t necessarily have to dialogue or collaborate with others. But by updating their profile, adding pictures or texts to their own page they actually engage in an indirect or passive form of communication and sharing in the social network to each they belong.
But still the question remains- what kind of social relations support learning?
Awareness entails a kind of relation that supports transparency but not necessarily collaboration or discussion. There are two different relations: Collaboration (when people work together with the same aim ) and cooperation ( when people work by themselves but connected to others, sharing their work ). The article aims to highlight pedagogical potentials of social network in relation to transparency. In online education this is particularly important.

 The author distinguishes between networks ( individually focused) and communities (spaces shared by groups) and argues that to foster transparency networks are more suitable because personal pages provide opportunity for personalization – a person can choose the content and the look of the page and is always present through his/her page. Socialization begins when the personal page is connected to other personal pages. Students can also establish a group of friends through the use of personal tools.These personal tools are used to organize work, collect literature, write notes, brainstorm, develop thoughts and ideas, write assignments. Sharing these tools with other students supports transparency and awareness – other students are a source of knowledge and information.

In the article Minds on Fire , Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0,   by  Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler , published at Educase Review, vol. 43, no. 1 (January/February 2008) a new concept is put forward – open participatory learning ecosystems -. What is this and how is it related to transparency in learning?

Open participatory learning ecosystems are learning web based communities where learning takes place in  very active and open( transparent) ways . Both the content and  the ways by which the content is created is visible to everyone and everyone is invited to join in  actively, sharing their knowledge, ideas , insights, making improvements, innovating and producing  free open valid resources. Full legitimate participation is encoraged both between peers and between learners and experts ( scientists or scholars).  In these communities learning also takes place both in formal or less formal environments. examples to illustrate these good practises are presented – Wikipedia strategies of article writing and reviewing, The Faulkes Telescope Project, the Decameron web , Terra Incognita on Second Life among others- and regarding as harbingers of Learning 2.0. You can also access this article here

All articles were last accessed in february 7th