Here are some basic ideas for teachers to make your online classroom a collaborative one.


Let’s start with a basic guide to help students be successful collaborative online learners.


     Online learning depends on you, the student; it is imperative that you become an active learner. What is an active learner? It’s a person who takes full responsibility for her or his own learning. You will need to complete assignments before the deadline, turn in assignment that look neat, and have been spell/grammar checked. Be sure to take the time to produce a final product that looks good and reflects a pride in your work. How do you do this? There are some simple guidelines that can help you be successful: be attentive when doing your course work on the computer by not allowing many distractions. That’s right you will need to FOCUS! Turn off your phone and find a quiet place to work, especially during online testing or synchronous activities. Finally it is up you, the learner, to take full responsibility for your own learning. The teacher is your guide and mentor! It’s up to you to get the job done!


Setting up a tutor or help sessions with your students!


This is a time that you can give academic help in your subject areas. Pick specific dates and time to meet with your students using Hangout, Facebook, and more. You can even blog with your students or have other students reach out and help each other. This is designed to allow students to post or ask questions they have with their academic class work.


Teacher lead sessions are designed to help each student collaborate with each other, encourage all students to be engaged, and evaluate the participation of students. A rubric should be posted that will be used as a basis for grading.


If you are doing a student tutorial session here are some possible guidelines:


  1. The student presenter is responsible for presenting a question or problem to the group, interacting with question from the group, and making an effort to pursue an answer or solution.
  2. Other students in the group are responsible for listening to and understanding the presenters question/problem, asking questions that clarify and help the presenter think deeper about an answer or solution, and discussing with each other strategies to move the presenters thinking when it gets stuck.


Remember it is important to set up the key purpose of the discussion area? It is not a social area but an academic one. Most students have a hard time with this because of social media issues and not having used online activities for academic tools. One very cool thing to do is set up your tutor or discussion times in a virtual world setting (but more on this later).


A key part of online learning is the collaborative environment. Here are some ideas or thoughts for a student’s role in a collaborative classroom. It is important to set the tone for a positive collaborative experience and what they should expect to experience in these type of learning groups.


Here is a sample of what you will need to have a student do in an inquiry or collaborative classroom

  1. Students will be expected to bring questions for discussions, have read/watched/listened to the materials and to exchange responses and work with others to gain a deeper understanding of the answers to the questions raided. Their grade is not only based on academic work but also on social interaction.
  2. Each pupil should be asked to demonstrate careful thinking and self-expression. Remember your goals for them are to be sure they search for answers, weigh evidence, and explore differing views. They should work close along with you, the teacher, and any leader of the group. Student’s will be asked to discover their own truth or interpretation of the material.


How do you make this a positive collaborative experience?


     Start by setting goals for each of your groups by developing rubrics and contracts with specific student responsibilities. This will create groups that have positive interdependence, individual accountability, a heterogeneous exchange of ideas, shared leadership and responsibility, develop the social skills needed to complete the task, tools to observe or intervene, and facilitate group effectiveness.


     Students will experience success and frustration while working with others but the benefits out weigh the negatives because they must learn to work effectively together. No one knows everything and the group will be able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the subject matter. They will remember more, move further faster, and have more fun by working together.


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