New semester starts. I have signed up for subject POA 7003 (Design of Learning Communities) which is a core paper in the course. It seems to be an interesting enough subject given my personal interest on online learning but I already missed the first class because I thought there wasn’t any on that day. So the second class was really my first class this semester.
What really interests me all this while had been how we learn. Each one of us clearly learns differently. I have to admit that I’m not one who was the attentive learner in class at school. My mind would wander off to something or somewhere else the moment the teacher opened his/her mouth but this wasn’t the case for all the subjects. I tend to be more attentive on certain subjects like history and geography (perhaps both requires a lot of imagination, so my mind couldn’t wander off to a another realm) and also perhaps different teachers deliver differently. I have always wondered if our education system these days have done enough to engage students, to keep their level of interests and motivation high enough to be able to perform academically.
So when the class started off with the discussion on collaborative learning it received my full attention. The eureka moment for me was when Dr Dewitt talked about the definition of collaborative learning by Kim & Song (2006). Collaborative learning was defined as the interaction of the learners that resulted in the understanding of concepts and principles : learners with learning materials, learners with teachers/instructors and learners with learners.
Equally important is the interaction with learning environment. This is particularly important considering the new and emerging ways of learning – we are no longer bound to the brick and mortar education process anymore. We have multitude of learning opportunities through various means and platforms.
We learn vicariously (the word that I acquired in Business Law during my first year of my degree many years ago in “vicarious liability”). We learn from Wikipedia, Youtube, Facebook and Reddit to name a few. I no longer buy newspaper (nor online newspaper anymore) because I have the Twitter feeding me daily news update. That said, while the emergence of new platforms and apps over the last two decades has exponentially change the way information is channeled, our education system is still relying on the traditional way of teaching. And while there are more information to be learned now than ever before, we also faced with the challenge of fake news and pseudoscience (flat earth as an example). So we have both extremes coming together at the same time.
Collaborative learning is about having a distinct and clear objective of making students cognitive development more effective through interpersonal interactions, within groups and communities supported by a nurturing environment. The is therefore key that this distinct objective is achieved through a well-planned design of the learning and learning communities.