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Facilitating Virtual Learning Teams in Online Learning Environments

, , Northern Illinois University, United States

EdMedia + Innovate Learning, in Seattle, WA USA ISBN 978-1-880094-35-8 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


Exceedingly, today's educators are expected to adapt teaching and facilitation techniques to new and emerging delivery systems. The number of educational courses and training programs migrating to the World-Wide-Web, the Internet, and corporate intranets is astounding (see Bassi, Benson, and Cheney 1996). For most educators, the migration to computer-mediated distance education does not come easily. Although at first glance, it seems that traditional teaching methods such as presentation, discussion, and team-based learning can be easily adapted to on-line delivery systems, in reality research is showing that teaching and learning in on-line environments is very different from face-to-face instruction (Luetkehans 1998; Sherry 1996). Of particular interest to educators is the effective facilitation of collaborative team learning in on-line environments. From a student perspective, participating in a virtual learning team (VLT) is a new, and perhaps frightening, experience. Mary Lou Crouch and Virginia Montecino (1997) note a phenomenon experienced by on-line learners called "cyberstress." The asynchronous nature of many on-line courses and communication tools, and the perceived distance between learners and other team members contributes to fears of contributions and assignments left unnoticed and "lost in cyberspace." Students have not developed sufficient experiences for dealing with delayed communications, the generative nature of on-line learning, nor the ability to express themselves effectively to team members through written communication. The purpose of this paper is to present tips for educators who would like to successfully integrate and facilitate virtual learning teams within their on-line courses. The techniques are grounded in current research and the theoretical foundations of systems theory and group dynamics. Tips emphasize facilitation of virtual learning teams assembled for the purpose of formal education who are supported by computer-mediated communication tools.


Luetkehans, L. & Bailey, M.L. (1999). Facilitating Virtual Learning Teams in Online Learning Environments. In B. Collis & R. Oliver (Eds.), Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 1999--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications (pp. 1123-1127). Seattle, WA USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved August 19, 2022 from .



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