Collaborative Networked Learning: A Guide/Introduction/Beginner

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Collaboration--Across Time and Distance: A Premier[edit]

Channel Selection[edit]

Electronically networked group involves different communication channels than when working one to one. Selecting an appropriate channel for the each tasks may accomplish the objectives. Adler and Elmhost (2005) consider five important factors to help one decide when, where and how to communicate, such as the time required to receive feedback, amount of information conveyed, sender’s control over the message, control over receiver’s attention and effectiveness for detailed message. In order to determine when to meet face-to-face or when to send e-mail or perhaps when to send a simple instant text message, consult Table 1.1 page 13 in Adler and Rodman, Understanding Human Communication 9th edition for guidance.

Feedback Strategy: Feedback messages without nonverbal clues[edit]

As part of a face-to-face group individuals are constantly reading the nonverbal communication such as gestures, facial express, voice tone, and change in body position. In essence, the communicators are monitoring the interaction looking for feedback that says "how things are going." These feedback messages are both verbal and non-verbal. Communicators become accustomed to reading the nonverbal messages for level of understanding, agreement, or meaning that is shared among the participants in the interaction. In many collaborative networked environments, the non-verbal messages are reduced or non-existent. Participants develop special strategies for eliciting and sharing feedback in networked environments. For example, in an electronic network involving only text-based computer mediated communication (CMC) the feedback is more restricted than in other networks.

Eliciting and contributing Feedback[edit]

Process Facilitation—how are we doing as a group[edit]

While any participant may assume responsibility for eliciting feedback and confirming meaning from other participants, all members of the learning group share the responsibility for clarification and confirmation. Each individual participates actively to let others know their current level of understanding or acceptance. David and Roger Johnson (1994) offer some general advice for providing feedback which will help create a group context which supports group communication. Based on their research in collaborative group learning environments, they offer the following ground rules for providing effective feedback:

Effective feedback is as immediate as possible; rather than allowing misunderstandings to multiple and continue through a series of exchanges, members check for understanding regularly.

Effective feedback focuses on description and personal interpretations of messages rather than judgment or evaluation.

Effective feedback focuses on the particular message or behavior of the participant rather than imagined personality traits.

Effective feedback is personal such as I perceive... or I understand rather than impersonal such as The general perception is..... or The level of understanding is ......

Effective feedback provides only the amount of information that can be understood or is meaningful at the time, rather than a dissertation.

Effective feedback is specific and focused rather than general and abstract. It is meaningful within the present context of the group communication.

Feedback about group process is important.[edit]

One often neglected aspect of feedback is the collaborative process itself. The Johnsons suggest that members of a group who are attempting to engage in collaborative group work focus feedback on group process as well as the specific content of the group efforts. Elaine Kerr (1985,p.16) " Small task-oriented groups need to occasionally pause to talk about the process itself: participant rates, the tone of the conversation, conflicts, feelings about the process, impacts, observations and problems of using the system, equipment..." Creating a special time or electronic space for this type of feedback is vital to the on-going success of the collaboration.

If the team is to continue to collaborate and grow as a group, then it will need to focus on its own interaction as a group. Sharing observations about process in the group can help group members become aware of where the group is collectively and how individuals have contributed to that direction. Observation of this nature provides the feedback necessary for groups to improve their overall productivity and satisfaction.


Collaborative Group Productivity suggestions[edit]

Get to Know the members

Review the background introduction profiles Share fears, success and concerns about collaborative team work

Group Memory

As part of the work process it is important to create a group memory or repository of content date.

Use the chat room with “record” selected to archive the decisions and discussion. Use the discussion forum conference to post and discuss ideas rather than sending individual attachment emails.

Project Management Hints Create time tables for different phases.

Set expectations about individual and group deliverables.

Follow-up discussion and meetings with summarized agreements and reminders of timelines.

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