Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Online Collaboration: Great Ideas

I've been wrestling with the issue of online collaboration since I began teaching and learning online back in 1996. How do you coordinate complex jobs in an asynchronous environment?

This past week in E-Learning for Educators, groups worked to create both Discussion Forums and Wikis. Familiarity with threaded discussion and forums made that task easier, but many in the group struggled with the Moodle Wiki work. By the end of the week the concept was more firmly established!

Pardon the Re-post, but I wanted to share this. It gave me a Eureka Moment!

This was forwarded to me by Joan Vandervelde, Program Coodinator for the UW-Stout Online Professional Development Program. I missed this one, but wish I hadn't. ~ Dennis

"When online students work on assignments in collaborative teams, conflicts inevitably arise, says Patti Shank, an instructional designer and principal of Learning Peaks, LLC. That’s why each team should draft an agreement that addresses potential conflicts up front.

Shank offered this and other advice to online instructors during the February 15 online seminar " How to make online collaboration work well." Shank recommended that team agreements answer the following questios:

  1. Will the team have a leader and if so, who will this be, and will this role be rotated?
  2. How will work be distributed? Who will do what? Who is the designated backup?
  3. What work style does everyone agree to?
  4. Any known problems or problematic dates/times that need to be factored in?
  5. When and how will the team “meet” and communicate with each other? How often?
  6. How will iteration and version control get handled?
  7. Who will post team deliverables?
  8. How will team members provide constructive feedback to each other?
  9. How will team members handle work that is sub par, incomplete, or not done?

Shank also recommended that instructors offer feedback on these agreements, highlighting where they are too general or too soft. Instructors should ask for revisions until the agreements address each concern effectively, Shank advised.

“Until everyone gets an A on this assignment, it’s not done,” she said.

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