image, George Siemens

Siemens (2008a) described a shift in education from individual memorization and repetition to a collaborative model he called “participatory pedagogy (Laureate Education Inc, 2008a)”. Siemens presented four models for educators to use to assess collaborative learning including; peer grading, online community participation, teacher assessment, and technology traces (Laureate Education Inc, 2008a). Palloff and Pratt (2007) suggested adhering to a rubric for discussion grading, peer assessments, and embedding assessment into the structure of the course (pp. 208-216). Siemens (2008a) suggested that assessment be based on situations found in real life that are both valid and fair (Laureate Education Inc, 2008a). Palloff and Pratt (2007) also suggested incorporating real life assignments to foster and reinforce collaboration (p. 168).

Siemens (2008b) explained that many reluctant collaborative students are the students who are very smart. He presented two strategies to get these students to participate; change the way students are graded and scaffold them into participating by modeling an ideal community discussion (Laureate Education Inc, 2008b). He also suggested the following essential elements of successful collaboration; trust and a good balance of collaboration (Laureate Education Inc, 2008b). Palloff and Pratt (2007) described many strategies that promote online participation including setting clear expectations, modeling good participation, intervening when necessary, personal communication, and including human elements into the community (p. 150).Collaboration.jpg

In a collaborative online class; the course needs to be well designed for collaboration with clear expectations. The expectation is that every student will participate in the collaboration. Working alone should not be an option. Siemens (2008a) explained that the entire system can fail if one person does not participate (Laureate Education Inc, 2008a). This means that instructors need to have alternate plan in place if a collaborative team falls apart. The instructor needs to intervene and make the best out of the situation and collaboration grades should reflect individual participation.

I found the following blog entry on the topic of Online Collaborative Learning:

Mackness (2009) introduced Salmon’s five stage model for the development stages of online collaboration. This model reflects the previous suggestions from Siemens (2008a, 2008b) and Palloff and Pratt (2007) by stressing the importance of building a positive environment for collaboration in the first three stages. Mackness(2009) described how teachers can assist building collaboration through modeling and reflected on her own painful experiences with group collaboration as a minority view holder. She concluded that students can be successful at online collaboration but questioned if online collaboration is the only acceptable method of online instruction.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2008a). Assessment of Collaborative Learning. On Principles of Distance Education. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008b). Learning Communities. On Principles of Distance Education. Baltimore: Author.

Mackness, J. (2009, June 1). Collaboration online [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.