LT 7008: Activity 11 - Design of Collaborative Activities

Design four different collaborative activities for a course of your choice. Submit the following: (a) a description of the course, including course goals and objectives (b) grade/age/learning level of the learners in the course (c) background information on the learners (Are students new to online learning? Are they experienced online learners? Is the group a mixture of the two?) (d) a clear description of each type of activity and why it is considered a collaborative activity (e) a detailed description of the activity itself: directions for the activity, objectives, timeline, process for submission, and assessment.

Whether learning takes place in the traditional classroom or in the e-classroom “educational research tells us that student achievement increases when learning activities are engaging and student-centered” (Partnership, 2007, p. 207). The challenge for online instructors is to approach teaching from a new perspective as “teaching in the cyberspace classroom requires that we move beyond traditional models of pedagogy into new practices that are more facilitative” (Palloff & Pratt, 2001, p. 20). Instructors must find a balance between pedagogy using the latest technology and the right amount of learner engagement based on the course content and identified learning outcomes as the most exciting learning experiences rely on human interaction (Palloff & Pratt, 2001). A holistic learning environment which ensures the existence of social presenceand is based on the constructivist learning theory must provide learners with opportunities to collaborate and reflect. Chin and Williams (2006) referenced the importance of reflection with respect to a holistic learning environment wherein “learning is acquired through opportunities for reflection and active construction of knowledge as well as by means of social interaction and collaboration” (p. 19). According to Chen (2007):

in a constructivist learning environment, to successfully promote active and meaningful learning, the instructor has to commit a significant amount of time and energy to develop complex, problem-based learning tasks; arrange an open and resource-rich learning environment; provide ample opportunities for social interactions; form and norm groups; offer a cognitive scaffold, continuously monitor and coach performance; and encourage collaboration and interaction to gain multiple perspectives. (p. 74)

Course content directly linked to course and/or activity learning outcomes using engaging activities makes the learning experience relative to the learner. According to Watkins (2005) “these interactive exercises provide learners with an opportunity to question assumptions, challenge attitudes, gain’ a broader perspective on issues, develop constructive study skills, and/or work with others to build proficiencies related to course concepts or tasks” (p. 45). The development of learning activities which are designed to encourage learner participation and increase interaction with other classmates and linked to course content is no easy task and often requires more time than expected (Rosenberg, 2000). Garrison (2007) went on to describe how through reflective collaborative activities a true community of inquiry exists wherein "the goal is independent thinkers nurtured in an inter-dependent collaborative community of inquiry. This speaks directly to the property of asynchronous online learning" (p. 3).

My approach to support learners to achieve the course outcomes for the Introduction to Business (BA 101) course at Southwestern Oregon Community College is through active engagement learning experiences which are embedded in the four activities of BA 101. The activities were designed as part of my work in an e-cohort learning opportunity funded by a Title III grant at Southwestern and in my coursework for ELT 7008 Online Learning Communities and ELT 7003 Instructional Design and Engaging e-Learning Activities at Northcentral University:

All activities selected represent engaged learning and were designed to stimulate “learners to actively participate in the learning situation, and thus gain the most knowledge from being a member of an online community” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004, p. 7). View the presentation and take a look at each of the activities to get a glimpse of what BA 101 learners at Southwestern Oregon Community College will experience as the journey through the course activities.

BA 101 Collaborative Activities Presentation



Activity Requirements:
Course Description: The purpose of BA 101 is to acquaint learners with the Business Administration curriculum. Learners will be introduced to business vocabulary, the economic system, and will study the business organization with its many internal and external functions including ethics and social responsibility along with international issues, marketing, human resources, management operations, and financial considerations. View the full course description for more information and the syllabus.


Learner Background: Learners in the BA 101 course represent novice and experienced online learners generally ranging in age from 20 to 50 from all over the United States and a few learners enroll from other countries.

Collaborative Activity 1: Group Responsibilities - Now We Know!
This activity was designed to assist learners to develop group norms and experience the different group dynamics of learners with multiple learning styles. Collaborative team activities designed to identify group responsibilities is one way in which online teams can create positive group norms and dynamics which is essential to the success of online teams (Watkins, 2005). The class activity is one way to support learners to positively communicate in a discussion post and then defend their point of view with other classmates as needed. Learners will have had the prior experience of an introductory icebreaker activity prior to engaging in a more sensitive discussion to determine the top 10 group responsibilities as a class and prior to team/group activities. The activity is highly structured to support learners who have not had the chance to work in dyads first as suggested by Conrad and Donaldson (2004). Clear expectations for participation were established in the discussion forum and this activity is yet another way to establish additional online norms for teams. A course poll serves as the final outcome to communicate and determine the top 10 group responsibilities for the entire class to follow when they engage in future team activities. The level of participation will depend on the comfort level of the learner and how safe they feel should they disagree with another team member (Palloff & Pratt, 2001; Palloff & Pratt, 2007). I believe the learners will find this activity a positive experience and will provide a solid foundation as the teams work together on future projects. Check out the full details of the activity.

Collaborative Activity 2: Ethics First!
This activity was designed to move learners from the introductory discussion forum and group responsibilities forum into a higher level discussion of a sensitive nature in order to build trust among the team members and create a safe learning and sharing environment. Chen (nd) stated "if newcomers can feel comfortable, they have a willingness to share their ideas or experiences; thus, his learning community is formed in the right way" (p. 122). It is critical to remind learners to review the tips for success in the online learning environment document located within the Institutional Resources ANGEL homepage and to reinforce netiquette requirements which both support learners to successfully communicate online (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004). I provided learners with an initial post to kick off the ethical discussion and I followed the same forum posting requirements as expected of the learners. According to Broadbent (2002) an instructor who models behavior helps to build a sense of community. It is critical to provide learners plenty of time to discuss topics which touch upon personal opinion and sensitive topics as some learners may find these activities difficult to interact with other learners given the nature of the topic and this is when the role of the instructor is essential to encourage positive communication and to foster trust (Palloff & Pratt, 2001; Palloff & Pratt, 2007). I designed the “Ethics First” activity to occur during the third week of the course as learners should have already established an initial communication with other learners and the instructor and they need to build collaborative discussion and interaction skills to complete the future collaborative activities.

Collaborative Activity 3: One New Thing I Now Know!- A group reflection activity based on the individual activity Three New Things I Now Know! In the Three New Things I Now Know activity learners are provided an opportunity to reflect upon the first portion of the course and communicate to the instructor three new things learned within a discussion forum designed to be a safe and comfortable learning environment. Reflective activities are those which might take a position, provide a reaction, or to summarize the content in terms of personal understanding (Bonk, 2011). The activity was designed to encourage learners to look beyond the content and provide an opportunity for learners to “gain insight into their individual activity outcomes and apply that knowledge to their learning experience” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004, p. 73). According to Pilling-Cormick and Garrison (2007) "reflective inquiry plays a vital role in helping learners think about their learning" (p. 28). I believe this activity will be well received by learners as they are able to share their views with other learners and be able to learn what others found valuable. As noted by Dabbagh (2007) “reflection skills include the ability to apply frequent and substantive consideration and assessment of one’s own learning process and products and the group's learning process and products” (p. 221). There are two posting requirements; the first allows learners to post to the instructor and receive feedback prior to posting to an all class collaborative discussion forum titled One New Thing I Now Know!. Learners are provided a total of three opportunities to reflect as they participate in the Three New Things I Now Know! and the One New Thing I Now Know! activities in weeks five and eight then again in the final week of the course.

Collaborative Activity 4: Business in Practice - See What We Produced!
Real-life situations serve as a catalyst for collaboration given students are motivated by solving real-world problems which require collaboration given "success is not achievable by an individual learner working alone. Authentic activities make collaboration integral to the task, both within the course and in the real world" (Lombardi, 2007, p. 3). This activity is designed for team members to create an actual product based on information found in their research which is to be marketed to the class and then find out which product would most likely be purchased by other members of the class. According to Palloff and Pratt (2001) “if the course has been designed to incorporate and invite real life experience into the classroom students can begin to explore the material being studied not just from an academic standpoint but through the personal meaning they derive from it” (p. 83). I believe learners will find this activity relevant as they are required to research information from real world current events the learner initially identified at the beginning of the course which have a major impact upon society and create a new product to market to the other teams. The activity was designed to allow learners to practice their research skills to find current and relevant business information/article using electronic methods or traditional hardcopy techniques. Learners are given the opportunity to collaboratively explore a current event topic chosen through class input and market a product of their choice associated with the current event topic. Clardy (2009) discussed the effectiveness of learner control within the e-classroom and found “when Web-based courses allowed higher levels of control, practice opportunities and feedback to students, the effect of web-based instruction was strong compared to classroom instruction” (p. 16). Each team member completes a Team Review Form which comprises 50% of the final score for the activity.

Experience BA 101 as a Learner
ANGEL Course Access: http://socc.angellearning.com/default.asp - access provided to instructor Dr. Gatin only at this time. Once the system has been accessed, note the Institutional Resources section near the top-right hand side of the webpage. These resources were created as part of an e-cohort learning opportunity at Southwestern Oregon Community College which was funded with Title III funds to allow full and part-time faculty to the opportunity to create quality resources and courses for online learners using the Quality Matters model.

Activity Resources
BA 101 e-classroom Business in Practice Forum Grade Rubric: used for activity 4
BA 101 e-classroom Discussion Forum Grade Rubric: used for activities 1, 2, and 3
BA 101 Team Review Form: used for activity 4
Quality Matters Overview

Presenter Notes:


Resources
ANGEL wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANGEL_Learning

Rubric resources
SouthEastInitiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium, (SIRTEC). (2003). Planning into practice. Retrieved from http://www.dgsd.k12.ak.us/education/page/download.php?fileinfo=MUludHJvLnBkZjo6Oi93d3cvc2Nob29scy9zYy9yZW1vdGUvaW1hZ2VzL2RvY21nci80OGZpbGUxNzcucGRm

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