• Week 3- Student collaborations & peer exchange
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Learning Outcomes

  • How can teachers facilitate collaboration and peer exchange?
  • Why is collaboration important and what kind of collaboration should we target?
  • Role teacher vs role of student 
  • Importance of scaffolding collaboration






Jimvid 1 script minor changes/deletion    
Rosemary, Heatherno change   

no change

Mariano change   


Discussion prompts:

1- What are some of the topics where collaboration could be effective? why?

2- What approaches could be effective, and how could technology play a role? (by approach, do we mean design?)


  1. Think about either Maria or Charlie: how did her/his lesson use technology to support student collaboration? How did the technology help?

  2. Now think about the collaboration part: What did students gain from this collaboration that made it an important part of the lesson? Why was collaboration effective for learning?



Fischer, F., Kollar, I., Stegmann, K., & Wecker, C. (2013). Toward a script theory of guidance in computer-supported collaborative learning. Educational psychologist, 48(1), 56-66.

White, T., & Pea, R. (2011). Distributed by design: On the promises and pitfalls of collaborative learning with multiple representations. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(3), 489-547.


 Video1 script


Hi, everyone, and welcome again to week 3.
I hope you're enjoying the course so far.
This week, we'll talk about collaboration and collaborative
Maybe we'll even collaborate.
So I'll begin here with a short lecture about collaboration,
including some discussion about how to design collaboration into inquiry.
Then the UTS leaders will have a short video about how
they value inquiry in their school.
And then two examples this week from teachers
who have incorporated inquiry into their own designs.
To start, we should recognize just how social and collaborative
our society has become.
With the advent of web 2 technologies like Facebook and YouTube,
we've essentially become a community or society
of sharing resources, negotiating value, tagging, voting, sharing, forwarding.
Social networks allow us to distribute resources and collectively define
our values.
They play a role in politics, academia, and the workplace
have become deeply social and deeply collaborative.
Theorists and social visionaries have defined this so-called knowledge age
as one in which collaboration and collaborative working cooperation
have become deeply ingrained.
Even this MOOC, where almost 2,000 of us are gathered together
learning, ironically, about collaboration
is an example of this kind of collaborative phenomenon
and a hallmark of 21st-century society. (delete?)
So to start, I want to rehearse just how much support there
is for collaborative learning in various research literatures.
Two of the luminaries of educational psychology, Vygotsky and Piaget,
have characterized learning as fundamentally social in nature.
Vygotsky provided a theoretical description
of learning as being socially mediated depending
on learning and communication.
And cognitive psychology researchers have
studied how learning is fundamentally explanatory in nature
and develops through explanation, reasoning, and reflection.
So when we provide those reflection notes for you each week,
we're doing that because of our belief and our familiarity
with the research that says you will develop a deeper
understanding by essentially the requirement of putting your new ideas
and thoughts into a structured language.
Benjamin Bloom of Bloom's Taxonomy and many others
have recognized just how poor the lecture
format is for learning where students are basically
reduced to passive recipients of the instructional message,
especially compared to tutoring, which Bloom
found had a two standard deviation improvement over lecture.
Presumably, tutoring is so effective for a couple reasons.
First, that the tutor is able to closely monitor
the state of the tutee's understanding, and second, because the tutee is given
so many opportunities to make language and produce language
about their understanding, communication, and collaboration.
Many educational researchers have taken this basic idea
of learning through collaboration, learning through language
and tried to design methods that would essentially
capture the potency of tutoring.
These include, shown here on this slide, collaboration scripts,
like reciprocal teaching and peer tutoring that
have been shown to be very effective.
There are entire fields-- again, research journals and conferences--
dedicated to collaborative learning and cooperative learning.
Computer-supported collaborative learning is one.
Sub-discipline computer-supported collaborative work is another.
So there's plenty of support from the research community about the value
of collaboration for learning.
Recently, there have been a number of movements at the university level
to improve on the lecture model of teaching and learning.
For example, flipped classrooms is an effort where students are essentially
sent home to watch videotaped lectures and read from textbooks
and basically get the lecture content on their own, and then come back,
and in class time, they actually do more like homework--
working in small groups with close tutorial from the instructor.
Other efforts have tried to augment the lecture experience
by using clickers or audience response systems that give students a chance
to voice their own understandings, either collectively
as seen on the screen, or turning to their peer
and explaining their interpretation of conceptual problem
or a simulation that's used by the lecturer.
I personally feel that the movement toward active learning
is on the right track, because it decentralizes the classroom,
takes the student off the stage, and puts
a lot of constructive pressure on students to develop new understandings,
interact with each other, and have increased levels of dialogue
with the teacher.
But it's much more challenging for the teacher
to design those kind of activities for the classroom,
and there's no handbook for how to do it.
It's not at all clear that you get the same density of coverage for your time
out of working these active learning formats.
And so there's still a lot left for the community to unpack.
So let's start with a statement of the central challenge.
We may believe that collaboration is effective.
We may be committed to adding it to our courses.
But how do we make it so?
We want to make sure that all students stay on task
and that all peer interactions are productive.
We want to make sure that the efforts of one student
benefit his or her group mates, and that every student progresses
in their learning.
And we want to make sure that any collaborative activities
that we design fit seamlessly into the broader curriculum,
perhaps building on prior instruction and informing subsequent lessons.
Group work is more complex.
It's more complex to design, and it's more complex to manage.
I would argue that technology can help respond to this challenge--
supporting students in the midst of these group designs,
helping the teacher to manage the classroom while she or he is talking
to one group of students and listening closely to them, that the technology is
helping-- we use the word "scaffold" the other groups in the room.
And by scaffolding, I mean it helps them know what to do and when.
It gives them a technology learning environment to work within.
It gives them headers on pages.
It gives them carefully designed worksheets.
So in this way, technology definitely can support inquiry
and promote collaborations and the kind of exchanges
that we would like to see for learning.
So let's think about some of the ways that technology can do this.
How can it make the collaboration go more smoothly?
One of them is through this notion of making ideas more visible,
making thinking visible using a tool like a simulation or a model
where a student can essentially represent
their understanding of a phenomenon and then run it and show their own ideas
or predictions and have their peers be able to see that, too, as well
as their teacher.
Concept maps are another way of making your ideas visible.
You show the relationships between certain concepts and groupings,
and other students in your group are able to see that and respond to it
and build upon it.
Editing shared documents-- this is a big one for me.
I use it in almost every curriculum design that I
create for my own teaching, my classes.
You just make a Google Doc, and you add the members of the group to that doc,
or you ask them to make it, but then you give them
the page headers that go on that doc.
So they have a lot of freedom for what to put on that page,
but you as the instructor can be sure that they're
at least responding to the subcategories that you would like to see.
So for example, on the left side here of the slide,
you see a page that was created for a neat inquiry curriculum
that we wrote for middle school life science.
It was about human diseases and disease systems.
And we wanted the kids to make their own pages for the diseases
to go figure out what diseases are out there
and have some freedom to create wiki pages.
To support the students working in their small groups,
though, we gave them a nice page template for the disease.
What's the name?
What's a basic description?
But also, what are the symptoms of the disease?
How does it interact with other body systems?
How does the disorder affect the biological system functionally?
Is there a pattern that reflects geographical regions, sub-populations,
What are the treatments for the disease?
On the right side, you see a template for a page
that we'll be using this week.
It's one of the lesson design pages.
How do I make sure as the instructor of this course
that the design teams can stay on task and can make sure
that I help scaffold them in the process of building inquiry curriculum lessons?
So I've made a template here, which you can't see the whole thing,
but you can see the beginnings of the scaffolds
that we put into place for collaboration. (Delete?)

A third method or approach for how technology
can help guide you and support student collaborations
is by aggregating student contributions, by letting
them be collected together, assembled, and maybe tagged.
We did this with the community here by asking
you to submit all of your favorite technology resources.
We gathered them together.
We then tagged them for themes and special interest groups
so you can go as an arts teacher or a science teacher
and find the other ones that your colleagues have contributed.  (Delete?)
This can be done by teachers for small groups or for the classroom as a whole.  
I think in two weeks time, we're going to discuss
the notion of collective inquiry where the whole class works
to make progress on something.
But I've seen Pinterest boards commonly used for this purpose, or Google Docs,
or songs in a playlist.
Finally, technology can support student collaboration through creativity.
And there are so many amazing new systems, technologies, environments
coming out.
Minecraft is one that we see being used by teachers often.
Comic book authoring software, like Pow Tunes.
Even PowerPoint and Prezi are now offering
an interesting range of scaffolds for students to create presentations.
Muraly is another one where they can collaboratively build web murals.
So there's a range of environments that you
can use to allow students to create designs or final products
to represent their own understandings.
So hopefully, these ideas have given you some sense
of how you could create collaborative activities
and how technology can support those, and you'll be thinking about that more
throughout the week.
One last question that I want to take a minute to talk about
is how to integrate collaboration into your inquiry lesson.
Maybe the whole thing isn't all done collaboratively with student groups.
One thing I can say is that collaborative projects are often
an excellent culminating activity.
So designing a website or a Prezi or some artifact
is a nice way for students to make their own understandings visible
and to negotiate with their peers about where they've come.
Another important idea is that collaboration
can be used to actually structure and move the curriculum
through different phases.
So jigsaw is a famous example of that, where I might
have three or four specializations.
In the case of the disease wiki page earlier,
we had respiratory, circulatory, and digestive diseases,
and we had each student belong to one of those three large groups.
But then we would potentially-- what they call jigsaw--
regroup them into small groups of three, each group having one
member from the specialization groups.
The advantage there is that if you specialized in respiratory,
you then got to exchange with students who
had made their strength in circulatory and digestive.
Finally, the idea of a large project or a major project,
a collaborative one especially, can be very daunting to any instructor
where the students are responsible to maintain and to make progress
on a major design or a portfolio of some kind.
And I will say that it is a commitment.
It's definitely a commitment in terms of assessment,
because you then have to understand how to gauge different students'
contributions to the group.
But there are positives that come out of that.
Students learn important skills of working with a team.
And sometimes, they have to negotiate issues that come up.
They might need project management skills or techniques,
so keeping to do lists and emailing back and forth about the state
of different parts of the project.
So there are opportunities to using collaboration
in any scope and scale wherever you insert it into your curriculum.
It's safe to say that from an educational research standpoint,
the collaboration is one dynamic where we're
very confident that learning happens at a high level
as long as you've created the right opportunities with the right kind
of scaffolding for students to build language
and to interact with their peers about their understandings.
So thanks a lot, and enjoy the next two videos.
And the reflection note, I hope, will help you reflect.
And if you're in the design strand, good luck with your collaborations
this week(Delete?)


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