Making the most of your online learning


You will have had some experience of learning collaboratively in the classroom and so will have some understanding of the challenges and benefits of collaborating in the same physical space. For example, in the past you might have sometimes found it difficult to put your hand up and offer your opinion in a classroom setting. However, when you did ask a question in the classroom you benefited from an instant response to your questions.

Collaborating in an online learning space will both challenge and benefit you in different ways. It will also give you the opportunity to rethink the way you work with others.

How to engage in online collaboration

Developing a positive online identity

The Communicate topic covers the importance of the written word in online learning. Presenting your ideas online should prompt you to consider how you come across online. Which aspects of your personality and interests will you present to your tutor and other students on your course. 

Facilitating good quality discussion

When learning online, it may take longer to receive a response to questions and comments. However, you will have more time to think about your responses and you can expect the responses you receive from others to be more considered. All of this can lead to a better quality conversation. 

Making efficient use of your time

When you are completing a piece of group work online you might find it difficult to find a time when everybody can work on the project together. By planning ahead you can make sure that you and your group make the most efficient use of the time you have. At the start of the project communicate with your group members to gain a realistic picture of their schedule and commitments. Agree on deadlines, divide up work and consider how you will share ideas and updates on progress. You may finish your input at 22:00 China Standard Time and leave comments and instructions for your colleague to pick up on their lunch break at 13:00 Greenwich Mean Time.

Make the most of the diversity of your group

Whenever you undertake a group project remember that you will be working with a group of individuals with a wide range of skills, knowledge and experiences. This is especially true of online groups. Consider how you might use this diversity to the advantage of the group. Find out if anyone has experience of completing a similar task, use the wide-ranging knowledge in the group to problem-solve and make good use of the different skills each individual possesses. Later in the resource you will get the chance to explore group work in more detail.

Keep communications professional 

In an online environment it is not possible to use non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice to supplement your verbal communication. Before you write responses to comments or materials consider how your message will be perceived. During your course there may be times when you want to disagree or question someone else’s point of view. Asking questions and stimulating debate is great for both your learning and that of other students. However, when you challenge others make sure that you do so in a thoughtful and professional way. 

Write your thoughts clearly, avoiding phrases or language that may confuse. Finally, proofread before you post. Communicating online requires you to be considerate and accurate.

Humour can be effective and at times relevant in discussion, but you should avoid using sarcasm as it does not translate well in the online environment.

Activity: Collaboration skills

What skills have you used to collaborate in a face-to-face setting? Think about how you could apply or adapt those skills for online collaboration. What are the benefits to online collaboration for you and the way you work?

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Last modified: Friday, 26 Jul 2019, 10:40