Collaborative learning can be defined as a process where ‘students interact for the purpose of achieving a better understanding about a concept, problem or phenomenon, or to create a novel piece of knowledge or a solution that they previously didn’t know’ (Chai, Lim, So & Cheah, 2011, p.6). Collaborative learning is more than cooperation within the classroom as there is more focus on group formation, interaction, procedures and the outcomes of the activity.
Web 2.0 tools are those that allow students to undertake this collaborative learning as they allow for social interaction through applications such as Facebook, blogs, forums and discussion boards. In the research conducted by Luckin, Clark, Graber, Logan, Mee & Oliver (2009) it was indicated that although the secondary students who were involved in the study were not aware of the full range of Web 2.0 tools that are available, only having an understanding of social networking sites, online games and instant messaging services. Many of the Web 2.0 tools were considered to be under-utilised including wikis and blogs, with students noting that they read these for information but rarely contribute by posting to them. It was also noted that majority of these Web 2.0 tools are used outside of the classroom and the students did not see educational value in their use in the classroom.
The issues that were discussed throughout the article are quite complex. As discussed in previous modules, there is a real need for policies to include the integration of Web 2.0 tools and what they can be used for within the educational context. The need for schools to provide support to teachers and students in regards to providing the tools needed to be able to maintain the use of Web 2.0 tools and the training that educators need to be able to integrate these tools effectively into their classrooms.
With school IT departments working with the teachers in order to determine their needs in terms of infrastructure including hardware and software, as well as what training the school can provide to help all staff become proficient with the tools they wish to use the integration of Web 2.0 tools into the classroom to provide collaborative learning experiences should be quite smooth and successful. There are a number of avenues that schools can follow in order to source effective professional development to help their staff to be the best they can be at using Web 2.0 tools in their classrooms so this would be a great place to start.
Beauchamp and Kennewell (2010) explore the idea of interactivity rather than simply collaboration. In their article, they look at five different types of interactivity that can occur in the classroom. Below I will explore each and describe what a group of students would look like in my classroom if they were participating in each type of interactivity.
- Group Interaction – an example of this kind of interaction could be students working in small groups to create a collaborative Google Slides presentation as a class around a particular topic. Each group would be given a sub-section of the topic that they would work on, with a range of guidelines that they must follow to complete their particular section of the task. The final submission of the research would come from the group, not from me.
- Authoritative Interactivity – in this type of interactivity, students are working individually using ‘tutorial software as a participant in interaction with predetermined responses… or the student may be using a content-free program as a tool to carry out a fixed procedure to complete a familiar task’ (Beauchamp & Kennewell, 2010, p.760). In my classroom, students spend a lot of time working through simulations and various tutorial software to help them to visualise difficult concepts in science. In particular, Phet simulations are excellent for providing students with easy to follow interactive simulations.
- Dialectic Interactivity – an example of this type of interactivity in my classroom could be a Google Site created with a range of YouTube videos, links to resources and other tools for students to be able to use as they need to be able to achieve a particular outcome. This provides variation to the students to be able to explore the resources based on their needs and interests.
- Dialogic Interactivity – as I have mentioned a few times throughout these blogs, having my students understand about academic honesty and plagiarism is a goal of mine in 2017. One way this could be done is for the students to contribute to a class blog where they share a link to an article they find online and then share their summary of the article in their own words. Students could then comment on the other students posts and provide feedback to their peers about how they completed the task. This also means that at the end of the task, the students will have a library of articles that they can then refer to for their own work at a later date, something that may be difficult for the teacher to achieve on their own.
- Synergistic Interactivity – in my class, I can see ‘synergistic interactivity’ being utilised through the use of a class Padlet. Padlet is a tool that allows anyone with a link to the board to contribute their ideas through text, images or video. This is a great way to meet the description that Beauchamp and Kennewell (2010) provide synergistic interactivity, that “the ability of all learners and the teacher to use the tool to contribute on equal terms is central” (p. 764).
Beauchamp, G., & Kennewell, S. (2010). Interactivity in the classroom and its impact on learning. Computers & Education, 54(3), 759-766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2009.09.033
Chai, C.S., Lim, W, So, H., Cheah, H.M. (2011). Advancing Collaborative Learning with ICT: Conception, Cases and Design. Ministry of Education, Singapore, 1st Edition.
Luckin, R., Clark, W., Graber, R., Logan, K., Mee, A., & Oliver, M. (2009). Do Web 2.0 tools really open the door to learning? Practices, perceptions and profiles of 11–16‐year‐old students. Learning, Media And Technology, 34(2), 87-104.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439880902921949