As a teaching practice the application of cooperative learning in tertiary education can present unique challenges for both the practitioner and her students. Mastering this teaching approach requires careful planning, design and implementation for effective deployment in a face-to-face setting. In this setting the success of the cooperative learning approach has been demonstrated. The complexity is significantly increased by additional variables such as the selection and application of technological teaching tools and the change in nature of existing variables including awareness of students' social and communication skills when applying this practice in an Online Learning Environment (OLE). In addition student acceptance of this e-learning approach to learning also needs to be carefully considered. The practitioner must be aware of these factors and have suitable methods in place to support collaboration and interaction between student groups to ensure the ultimate goal with regard to students' learning is achieved. This paper considers how cooperative learning can be combined effectively with these variables and factors of an OLE, and begins with the presentation of a conceptual framework to represent this relationship as a constructive teaching practice. It is anticipated that the conceptual framework would be applied by other practitioners to facilitate cooperative teaching within their OLE. To demonstrate the validity of the framework a case scenario is provided using an Information Technology (IT) undergraduate unit named 'IT Practice'. This is a wholly online unit where extensive participation by the students within small groups is a core requirement. The paper demonstrates the themes of designing curriculum and assessment, as well as flexible teaching strategies for learner diversity but primarily concentrates on managing an effective OLE; that is managing small groups in an online teaching environment.
Field of Research
080602 Computer-Human Interaction
Socio Economic Objective
930199 Learner and Learning not elsewhere classified