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INTRODUCTION TO ONLINE COLLABORATIVE LEARNING SYLLABUS Instructor: Linda J. Smith firstname.lastname@example.org INDEX Course Overview Requirements Study Planning Aids Course Description Texts and Course Materials Key Dates Goals/Objectives Course Requirements Calendar Scope of the Course Writing Standards Reading/Activities Check List Theoretical Framework Technical Requirements Course Modules Evaluation Institutional Policies COURSE OVERVIEW Course Description Introduction to Online Collaborative Learning (IOCL) introduces distance education students to the concepts and principles of online collaborative learning. Students begin with a self-assessment of personality traits, learning preferences, and assets relevant to collaborative activities. The course focus is the development of skills necessary for successful work in study groups by describing features of group formation and distribution of work, project planning and task analysis, organization of study group space, communication techniques, and guidelines for participation. IOCL is a prerequisite for the Online Collaborative Learning Workshop in which students gain substantial study group experience by completing several collaborative assignments that utilize the principles and techniques presented in the introductory course. This set of courses comprise an important offering in the student support subsystem of any Web-based program in the higher education sector by preparing students to succeed in an activity important both to their online learning experience and future work with colleagues in the new information-based economy. General Goals/Objectives The purpose of this course is to provide students with a foundational knowledge of online collaborative learning, an understanding of its value, and the ability to apply principles found in guidelines for online participation and collaborative group work. From this base, students will learn to analyze a group assignment, determine the tasks necessary for completion of the assignment, and synthesize those elements to create a project plan. They will also learn to evaluate which of various options, materials, and ideas presented by group members are most appropriate for completion of the assignment. These objectives encompass the full spectrum of educational objectives in the cognitive domain as categorized in Bloom's taxonomy (Driscoll, 2002). The course is designed to accommodate students who already have online collaborative experience as well as those who are new to the environment. Even the more advanced student is expected to benefit from an objective examination of online collaborative learning. The expectation is that students completing this course will gain an appreciation for diversity of thought and the contributions that fellow students can make to their learning. As individuals, they should experience empowerment in online collaborative learning activities through development of the requisite skills for success and an awareness of personal attributes and assets. Scope of the Course This course is being offered as a prototype for developing online collaborative learning skills for higher education students in a virtual university using Web-based technologies to reach a global audience. In its initial trial phase, the course is designed to prepare English-speaking students from countries familiar with Western culture how to work together to enhance their learning in higher education courses. Future versions of the course will include a preliminary segment that addresses cultural differences and issues that impact online interactions, and the companion workshop course will contain exercises designed to help students gain experience in working in multi-cultural groups. In addition to the limitations on the breadth of the scope of this course, there are also limitations on its depth. Issues such as the degree to which collaborative learning can contribute to higher order thinking have not been addressed and are more properly covered in a course of longer duration. While an effort has been made to design the course with special needs students in mind, such as the visually impaired, it is acknowledged that additional enhancements will be of benefit in future versions. For example, a system of sound cues to correspond to the visual cues of color and layout would aid the visually impaired in the recognition of cognitive relations. Theoretical Framework Two main theories are employed in the pedagogy of this course. One is Cognitive Coherence Relations (Mancini & Shum, 2001) applied in the hypertext study guide and group learning exercise. The intent is to provide learners with a means of identifying coherent connections within the navigational paths open to them. Through relational concepts such as basic operation, source of coherence, order of segments, and positive/negative relations, readers of these hypertexts can construct meanings as they proceed through the material. Relationships within the hypertexts are further enhanced by a "visual language" of shape, color, font, spatial position, and juxtaposition of units. The second theory is constructivism. A course in collaborative learning is essentially constructivist in nature as described by Jonassen, Davidson, Collins, Campbell, and Haag (1995). "Constructivist environments engage learners in knowledge construction through collaborative activities that embed learning in a meaningful context and through reflection on what has been learned through conversation with other learners." Course Modules Each of the three modules of this course will be opened in the classroom space no later than midnight of the day preceding the start of the module. Once opened, the modules will remain available throughout the course. Students are required to participate according to the class schedule for online activities; however, additions to prior conference discussions are encouraged whenever students have meaningful information and reflections to add to the course record. The intent is for the archived course materials to provide students with as much helpful reference information as possible for use in future online collaborative situations. Module 1 – Characteristics of Online Collaborative Learning and Self-assessment November 20 - 26 Objectives: Students will describe their current attitudes and knowledge concerning online collaborative learning. Students will discuss the characteristics and advantages of collaborative learning in an online environment. Students will examine the differences between division of labor and collaboration in online group learning activities. Students will use a variety of self-assessment tools to determine individual characteristics pertinent to online collaborative learning activities. Each student will describe for a group his or her personal learning style, group relation characteristics, and personal assets that can contribute to a group's activity. Readings: Introduction to Online Collaboration Study Guide – Chapter 1 See Course Content Collaboration Kiesler, S. (1994). Working together apart. CAUSE/EFFECT, 17(3). http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/text/cem9433.txt Leadership Hogan, R., Curphy, G., & Hogan, J. (1994). What we know about leadership: Effectiveness and personality. American Psychologist, 49(6), 493-504. Retrievable from MDUSA library, Social Sciences, Psychology, PsycArticles. Self-assessment tools: Learning styles Preparing Students for Elearning http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/Preparingstudents.htm A Learning Style Survey for College http://www.metamath.com//multiple/multiple_choice_questions.cgi Learning Styles and the Online Environment http://Illinois.online.uillinois.edu/IONresources/instructionalDesign/learningStyles.html Personality types – Myers-Briggs and Keirsey (free sites) http://www.doi.gov/octc/personal.html http://www.hcc.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/keirsey.ht m http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/t-articl/mb-simpl.htm Optional readings: Gokhale, A. (1995). Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking. Journal of Technology Education 7(1). http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/jte-v7n1/gokhale.jte-v7n1.html Hughes, S., Wickersham, L., Ryan-Jones, D., & Smith, S. (2002). Overcoming social and psychological barriers to effective on-line collaboration. Educational Technology & Society 5(1). Assignment 1 (Due Midnight EST November 26): Write a paper (up to 250 words) describing your personal learning style, personality type, and personal assets relevant for collaborative group activities. Module 2 – Collaborative Learning Organization and Resources November 27-December 3 Objectives: Students will discuss a set of guidelines for participation in collaborative learning activities. Students will examine the process of group formation, project planning and project execution. Students will determine the best communication methods for various group activities. Students will examine several techniques for resolving group differences. Readings: Introduction to Online Collaboration Study Guide – Chapter 2 See Course Content Teamwork Jarvis, C. What is it like working in a team? Business Open Learning Archive http://sol.brunel.ac.uk/~jarvis/bola/communications/effective.html McCann, D. Team learning. Team Management Systems Online. http://www.tms.com.au/tms12-2c.html Optional reading: Curtis, D., & Lawson, M. (2001). Exploring collaborative online learning. JALN, 5(1). http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/Vol5_issue1/Curtis/curtis.htm Assignment 2 (Due Midnight EST December 3): Write one or two paragraphs (100-200 words) explaining what you think is the most important step in study group work. Module 3 – Group Project Planning December 4-December 10 Objectives: Students will form a collaborative study group. The study group will analyze a group assignment. The study group will organize an online collaborative group conference area. The study group will create a project plan with a set of tasks and timeline for due dates. The study group will complete a collaborative project and report the results. Students will reflect on how their attitudes and knowledge of online collaborative have changed during the course. Assignment 3 (Due Midnight EST December 9): Collaborative Group Exercise Each study group (5 students per group) will collaborate to solve the hypertext mystery "Merger on the Asynchronous Express." Instructions for the exercise and final report can be found at http://polaris.umuc.edu/~lsmith3/Mystery.html Evaluation Students will be provided with feedback throughout the course both on their participation and on assignments. Assignments will be graded (Pass/Not-Pass) and returned with comments to students within two days of submission. Grading The grading system for this course is Pass/Not-Pass because it is a course offered in support of the development of learning skills students need for successful online study. A designation of "Pass" will be awarded to students who demonstrate a) an understanding of the principles of online collaborative learning and b) the ability to apply those principles in the electronic classroom. Students who do not pass the course will be required to repeat it and, upon request, will be assigned a tutor/mentor for special assistance. No grade of Incomplete ("I") will be given. Students not completing the course will be considered in the same category as "Not-Pass" students who must repeat the course. To pass this course students must: 1. Make meaningful contributions in class conferences (minimum 3 substantive postings in each of Modules 1 and 2); 2. Complete assignments 1 and 2 in a timely manner in clear and grammatically correct writing that demonstrates critical thinking; and 3. Participate fully in the collaborative group assignment in Module 3, demonstrating an understanding of the principles discussed in Modules 1 and 2. Course evaluation At the completion of Module 3, students will be asked to provide comments regarding the course and recommendations for improvement. REQUIREMENTS Texts and Course Materials All course materials are accessible online. Introduction to Online Collaborative Learning Study Guide Available online: See Course Content Journal articles and other readings are specified in the module descriptions and reading list. These readings have not been reproduced but are available to Internet users through the URLs provided. Course Requirements Students will be expected to invest a total of six hours in learning activities for this course with the weekly time spent averaging two hours per week. Learning activities include: required reading, optional reading, personal assessment, online conferencing, evaluation tasks, and a group project. Because of the importance placed on the quality of interaction in online courses as well as in future professional work, successful completion of this course within the first two terms of a student's program is a prerequisite for further study for certificate and degree-seeking students. Students are required to contribute to online discussions and activities in a timely and meaningful manner. Guidelines for frequency, volume, and extent of contributions will be published in the course; however, as a general rule, it is quality rather than quantity that is most important. Writing Standards Students should communicate in clear, grammatically correct writing. Communications in conference spaces and study group areas may be less formal than assignment products; however, respect for fellow learners and discourse appropriate for higher education should be demonstrated at all times. General writing guidelines and formats for references to external sources will be according to the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association (latest edition). Guidelines for "netiquette" can be found at http://www.in.on.ca/tutorial/netiquette.html Technical Requirements There are no exceptional hardware and software requirements for this course. The basic requirements are the same as for any online course with this institution: a standard PC with a recent version of either Microsoft's Explorer or Netscape Navigator and an Internet Service Provider with a modem speed of at least 28K (56K or higher recommended). However, students who wish to explore collaborative learning activities beyond the confines of this course may want to consider additional equipment, such as a microphone and Web-camera for synchronous communications and video- conferencing. Video images require broadband access for effective use. INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES Student Support and Accommodation This institution is committed to providing a student-centered learning environment with a support system designed to maximize opportunities for success for all students accepted into its programs. While acknowledging that the implications of this commitment are that our diverse and global student population will require different levels and types of support, we also recognize that building this support system must be done in stages. Therefore, the prototype course Introduction to Online Collaborative Learning will not be able to offer the full range of accommodations as those planned for later implementations. The pilot course will be limited to English-speaking students from countries familiar with Western culture and no special needs beyond those that can be accommodated by text interpretation systems for the visually impaired. Research indicates that interaction among students is an important element in online courses but that collaborative learning activities have not proven to be successful, perhaps because we have not yet found effective ways to support them (Swan, 2001). In accordance with our policy of pursuing better ways to provide online learning, this course will be used to research more effective methods to develop and improve student skills in collaborative learning. Use of Prototype Course Proceedings for Research and Publication Purposes This institution has a strict policy concerning the protection of students' privacy. However, while maintaining the commitment not to release personally identified information or violate ownership rights, students are advised that because this course is currently in the prototype stage, course proceedings such as conference discussions and assignment products are subject to appropriate use in research and publications explaining the course development process and outcomes. Plagiarism While the nature of work in this course does not lend itself to being vulnerable to plagiarism, students should be aware of the importance this institution places on students submitting their own original work and providing proper references and credit for material obtained from other sources. STUDY PLANNING AIDS Key Dates November 19 – Welcome day November 20 – Course begins November 26 – Assignment 1 Due December 3 – Assignment 2 Due December 9 – Assignment 3 Due December 10 -- End of course Calendar Note: this calendar and the reading/activities check list are available for convenience in printing and use in a separate file in the online course with expanded format and additional details. Course Calendar: Introduction to Online Collaborative Learning This calendar provides an overview of course activities and suggestions for self-pacing through each module in order to maintain a steady flow of communication among students in conferences and group activities. The only fixed dates are those on which assignments are due. Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Week 1 Nov. 20 Nov. 21 Nov. 22 Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25 Nov. 26 Module 1 Introductions Guide – Article - Article- Explore Assignment Discuss the Current chapter 1 collaboration leadership personality 1 value and assessments type Self features of Explore assessment collaborative learning paper learning and style perform self- assessment Week 2 Nov. 27 Nov. 28 Nov. 29 Nov. 30 Dec. 1 Dec. 2 Dec. 3 Module 2 Guide – Article – Article – Assignment Discuss chapter 2 teamwork teamwork 2 participation, (Jarvis) (McCann) Important organization, step analysis and paper resources Week 3 Dec. 4 Dec. 5 Dec. 6 Dec. 7 Dec. 8 Dec. 9 Dec. 10 Module 3 Review Define Create Follow Write report Assignment Wrap up Group exercise – tasks project plan project plan 3 session exercise begin team Group Final formation report assessments Reading/Activities Check List Check Reading/Activity Product Module 1 – November 20 - 26 Describe current attitudes and knowledge Conference post #1 Study Guide – Chapter 1 Kiesler – Working together apart Hogan et al. – What we know about leadership Conference contribution Conference post #2 Conference contribution Conference post #3 Self-assessment Paper #1 Module 2 – November 27 – December 3 Study Guide – Chapter 2 Jarvis – What is it like working in a team? McCann – Team learning Conference contribution Conference post #1 Conference contribution Conference post #2 Conference contribution Conference post #3 Analysis of study group work Paper #2 Module 3 – December 4 – December 9 Participate in group exercise Group report Complete course evaluation Survey form Conference contribution Reflection on final attitudes and knowledge References Driscoll, M. (2002). Web-based training: Creating e-learning experiences. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Jonassen, D., Davidson, M., Collins, M., Campbell, J. & Haag, B. (1995). Constructivism and computer-mediated communication in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 9(2), 7-26. Retrieved from online course materials. Mancini, C., & Shum, S. B. (2001). Cognitive coherence relations and hypertext: From cinematic patterns to scholarly discourse. Proceedings of ACM Hypertext 2001, Arhus, Denmark, August 2001. Retrieved 9/10/02 from http://kmi.open.ac.uc/publications/papers/kmi-tr-110.pdf Swan, K., (2001). Building learning communities in online courses: the importance of interaction. Proceedings of the Seventh Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning: Emerging Standards of Excellence in Asynchronous Learning Networks. Florida, November 16-18. Retrieved from online course materials. Other sources consulted: Lynch, M. (2001). Effective student preparation for online learning. The Technology Source, November/December 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=901 Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace: Effective strategies for the online classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Online syllabi at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://web.mit.edu/STS.305/www/syllabus.htm http://web.mit.edu/sts/academics/gradSyllabi.htm Archive materials for University of Maryland University College syllabi OMDE 601 Foundations of Distance Education OMDE 602 Distance Education Systems OMDE 603 Technology in Distance Education OMDE 608 Student Support in Distance Education OMDE 623 Web-based Learning and Teaching Source of idea for group exercise: The title of the group exercise, "Merger on the Asynchronous Express," is a take-off on the Agatha Christie movie title, "Murder on the Orient Express." In this movie, the culprits collaborate to murder a fellow traveler while onboard the train called the Orient Express.
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