In the article, Learning at a Distance: Engaged or Not?, it shoes that distance students are as (or more) engaged as face-to-face students. The result really surprises me. I always thought that learners don’t take online course seriously (I am one of them). The reason is that the pressure from the instructor in a face-to-face class is different from in the online class. Learners don’t need to “face” it in person. I think it may be the culture difference. We are accustomed to being push and forced to doing work. Some of students (maybe most of them) take going to class as a pressure. It is not news that K12-students commit suicide or self-harm because of pressure from course work. Once we have chance to get credits without attending class, we may nit take it seriously.
In the forum, we discussed the group work. Although the article, Group work does not necessarily equal collaborative learning: evidence from observations and self-reports, says that some learners cannot learn new knowledge in group work, I think it is still a good way to achieving collaborative learning. Sometimes learners cannot have good performance or learn more in group than in individual. The reason may be some problems in evaluation criteria provided by the instructor. In my country, a lot of teachers care about how much learners contribute in a group project. The may forget the most important is how much they learn. I think how much a learner contributes doesn’t represent how much he/she learn. If evaluation criteria are designed based on how much learners contribute, students may just divide up the project and each member just does what they are assigned without learning and sharing together.
Last, I want to talk about my country’s education situation. I think it is very common in American education system. However, I am not familiar with it. I mean I know what it is but I didn’t have much experience about it. Almost every citizen just care about the grade. We think that students’ grade can reflect their ability and competence. Most tests for students have only one correct answer. Collaborative learning seems no to be suitable for this kind of closed-ended task.
Chen, P., R. Gonyea, and G. Kuh (2008). Learning at a distance: Engaged or not?. Innovate 4 (3). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol4_issue3/Learning_at_a_Distance-__Engaged_or_Not_.pdf