This presentation will discuss the goals and structure of collaborative learning, review the literature on student perspectives re online learning, and focus on the feedback garnered over a 4 year period from students about their experiences in an online collaborative learning environment. Much of what is written about attitudes and experiences of online leaning comes from either the instructor or university administrator’s point of view. The feedback ‘voices’ shared in this presentation comes from students’ written reflections about their online experiences and from their anonymous evaluations in a graduate level theory course. The voices speak to the intensity and overall value of online collaborative learning, the increased diversity and richness of course content when examined through shared learning, their surprise at the ability to develop meaningful relationships in an electronic setting, as well as the communication challenges, demands, and frustrations that accompany the technological format of such courses.
Dr. Mary Secret is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA where she teaches in the MSW and PhD programs. She has taught online collaborative learning courses for several years, published in the field, and participated in online teaching workshops through CTE and various school and university initiatives related to distance education. Her research interests and expertise focus on program evaluation and practice-research collaborations, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and workplace policies and family well-being. Dr. Secret received her Ph.D. in Social Policy and Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.