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Episode Info: In this latest article, we explore how to improve collaboration in distance learning by empowering students to own the collaborative process. Listen to the Podcast If you enjoy this blog but you’d like to listen to it on the go, just click on the audio below or subscribe via  Apple Podcasts (ideal for iOS users) on Stitcher (ideal for Android users), on Amazon Podcasts, or on Spotify.  Making Collaboration Work in Remote Learning We’ve all been there before when we were students. You’d hear the dreaded words “group project,” and immediately begin calculating the additional work that you would need to do to keep the group afloat. You check the list of names on the board. You’ll be with the drifter, who wanders around the class chatting with friends. You’ll have the needy student who wants to ask the teacher a series of questions before making any decisions. Then you’ll have the feisty fighter who picks arguments out of sheer boredom. At that point, you would realize that you’d be doing four times the amount of work you would normally do on a project. It’s no wonder that so few remote learning classes include collaborative grouping. After all, the challenges of in-person groups seem amplified in virtual spaces. There tends to be less accountability for group members and less oversight from instructors. It is easier to disappear and avoid getting work done. Logistically, it can be challenging to schedule collaborative meetings. For this reason, it’s tempting to avoid group work in distance learning courses. And yet, distance learning often leads to isolation. During the pandemic, many students described the feelings of loneliness and disconnect as they shifted into online environments. We are social creatures and we need human interaction. This disconnect is amplified when online courses are designed with only individual work in mind. Over two decades ago, researchers Anderson and Garrison (1998) demonstrated that success in an online course depended on the relationship between the student and the content, the student and the instructor, and the student and classmates. Furthermore, when students are not collaborating with classmates, they miss out on new perspectives, new ideas, and new approaches to solve problems. They miss out on the opportunity to develop critical soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and creative thinking. In remote learning, students often interact with one another without actually engaging in collaborative work. Here, they are cooperating rather than collaborating. Cooperation begins with mutual respect while collaboration begins with mutual trust. Cooperation requires transparency but collaboration requires vulnerability. Cooperation includes shared goals but collaboration includes shared values. Cooperation is independent but collaboration is interdependent. Cooperation is often short term while collabo...
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