Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Module 3: Assessing Collaboration

Collaboration is an essential skill for today’s society.  We do not live in a world that is full of individual geniuses; we live in a world that is dependent upon the collective minds of many (Laurette, 2008).  Collaborative learning through distance education is a way to prepare students for jobs where they will be required to collaborate in a variety of ways.  Randy Nelson speaks about what schools need to do to prepare students for the new models in the work place. One of the questions that arises is how should students be assessed for their work and participation in a collaborative learning community?  The answer is through a variety of methods. 
Dr. Siemens states assessment should be fair and direct based on stated outcomes (Laurette, 2008).  One effective way to do this is through the use of rubrics. Rubrics clearly define expectations set by the teacher and shared with the student.  Students who have a clear understanding of what is expected of them are able to perform better with a higher level of self confidence (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). Online tools that can be used to create rubrics are Rubistar and Teach-nology.
Self and peer assessments are examples of other effective ways of assessing students (Laurette, 2008).    This gives students an opportunity to reflect on their own contributions as well as the contributions of others in their group.  Evaluating and reflecting on one's collaborative activity and doing a self assessment is an essential part of online learning (Palloff and Pratt, 2005).  Dr. Parsons and the University of Dundee worked with the Blackboard Learning System to create a software program that allows for self and peer assessments.  This software program is now an embedded feature of Blackboard.

At times a group may run into problems with an individual who does not carry his or her weight.  Instructors have the opportunity to be proactive by setting the stage early on, clearly outlining expectations and modeling behavior.  Instructors should also frequently monitor participation and send an e-mail or make a quick phone call if there is a concern.  Often times a simple e-mail will help diffuse a small problem before it becomes a more complicated mess.  Providing students with conflict management and conflict resolution tips is another way that instructors can help students (Palloff and Pratt, 2005).  The University of California has a Conflict Management Skills site that has resources including a free downloadable book on Mediation and Conflict Management Book. 


Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Assessment of Collaborative Learning. Baltimore: Author.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


  1. Lauramae, I like the ideas that Randy expresses -> make your partner look good and error recovery as the core skill of innovator's, and collaboration as amplification, as optimization. I really liked your inclusion of contextual hyperlinks and images.

  2. Great post! I loved your youtube clip and I think that it added depth to your post. Keep up the good work and good job on your storyboard.

  3. What a sophisticated blog. Mine looks so stickman and yours is so very sophisticated. I will get there one day.

    Randy Nelson says to accept all offers during improvisation. In other words, all ideas should be considered. The heart of collaboration. A free exchange of ideas.

  4. I really liked what Randy expressed and his ideas.
    Thank you all for your positive comments.
    Daniel, I am learning just as you are... we are both getting there! =)