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Online Collaborative Learning: Relating Theory to Practice

Journal of Educational Technology Systems Volume 31, Number 3, ISSN 0047-2395


Educational institutions have rushed to provide online courses; however, too often schools have discovered the difficulty in transferring effective teaching strategies in the classroom to an online environment. A unique aspect of quality online courses is how they rely heavily on effective collaboration to create a meaningful learning environment. Unfortunately, online instruction is not as simple as replicating the community atmosphere that is found in the traditional brick and mortar classroom. New strategies are demanded for the successful transfer of knowledge utilizing the Web. Investigating the pedagogical strategies of a program that promotes dialogue and collective intellect in a community model could benefit faculty designing courses. We will present a detailed case study using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods (including observation, focus groups, transcripts from synchronous and asynchronous discussions, surveys, and interviews) collected over a two-year span to identify perceptions of effective online collaboration and performance. Community formation, support, and sustainability are also explored. Examples are included that not only describe what participants perceive as enabling aspects of the support system but also ways in which educators can enhance program development by learning from other pioneers in this area.


Fisher, M. (2003). Online Collaborative Learning: Relating Theory to Practice. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 31(3), 227-249. Retrieved April 25, 2019 from .

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