[Topic3] What do I learn from collaboration?

‘Learning community’ became one of the major topics that I am pondering as a research and as an educator. Last year, I started a learning community in my faculty for the colleagues who might want to share thoughts on any practices and challenges that we are doing as an educator. Surprisingly, it attracted quite number of colleagues joined every sessions and voluntarily presented their practices. This community is a completely voluntary based and no obligation, yet there were few loyal members and it developed to moved to a bigger platform with the faculty’s support.

From this experience, I learnt that intrinsic motivation is the most important part of a successful learning community. If each of us is all motivated to give and learn within the community, the learning community will become beneficial to all in the community. But it lead me to think how we become intrinsically motivated to become a member of a learning community? Perhaps the community can add value to the person. For my learning community in the faculty, we all knew that we could learn from each other, and before that we all wanted to become a better educator.

Now, this semester, I used MS Teams for the first time in the course. For the past 12 years at my university, National university of Singapore, I have been using LumiNUS, a NUS’ learning management system (LMS). LumiNUS is an amazing platform that allows me to share files, upload pre-recorded e-lectures, create an online forum and online conferences, and manage small groups among the students. However, during a complete online course due to the Pandemic, I felt there is not enough communication channels with, and among students. Therefore I decided to use MS Teams mainly to support more communication.

One major observation by providing more communication channels include that the students formed a learning community in MS Teams. They posted questions and shared their thought about the questions posted. In addition the students posted some of casual stuffs like cartoons and video clips that are related to the course topic. And others reacted to the posts by emoji, or by commenting on them. I found it very interesting since this was an organically grown learning community, on the platform that I, an instructor provided. My take-away is sometimes as an educator, I can just provide a platform to students to start their self-directed activities and I just stay away and see. In this case, the motivation of students to be active in the learning community was also the same with my experience in a learning community for colleagues. That would be they want to learn from each other and rely on each other. After all, learning would be a social activity, that leads us to share and collaborate.

4 thoughts on “[Topic3] What do I learn from collaboration?

  1. Mihi thank you for sharing your insights in the key understanding about the intrinsic motivation. The challenge is, how can we as teachers influence this aspect? What was the key element that your students started to communicate with each other on MS Teams?

    • Thank you, Irina for the comment. I was also thinking about the reason. This semester, I used MS Teams for students to write a weekly learning reflection, and for me to feedback to their reflections. Based on that interactive activity, perhaps the students perceived MS Teams as a platform where active discussion on learning process is going on. In addition, I shared lots of Youtube video, poem, newspaper articles in MS Teams too. After a while, the students started to join that. I speculate the way I used the platform encouraged the students to do the same. But no scientific proof!!

  2. Good examples of local communities that can become very powerful. The next layer is forming external communities or even international ones, both joining existing ones as well as starting your own. An international community can be as simple as a hashtag like #ONL202 – if you search that you will find lots of communication and content around our course.

    • Thank you for the advice as always! I will definitely try that.
      ONL202 instills lots of seeds to nurture further. I am a living proof of powerful learning community 🙂 Really appreciate the chance!

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