Discussion Group
Collaborative Activities for Effective Online Learning Communities


Christine Bauer-Ramazani
Professor of CALL Online
Co-founder & Lead Coordinator of EV ONLINE sessions 2000-2004
Saint Michael's College
Colchester, VT


Mary Ellen Butler-Pascoe
Systemwide Director of Linguistics and Language Policy

Alliant International University, Graduate School of Education
 San Diego
, CA


  • establishing an effective interactive online learning community

  • empower students with models, tools, and activities for online learning/ teaching


Questions to be investigated

  1. How can online teachers establish a vibrant learning community in their courses?

  2. What types of collaborative activities have you had success with in online teaching?

  3. What tools and preparations are necessary to facilitate interaction and collaboration?

Types/examples of collaborative activities in online courses:

  • exchanging photos & bios
  • discussions about students' background, interests, goals, learning situation
  • online peer reviews
  • team reviews of web sites, software
  • team scavenger/treasure hunts
  • team construction of slideshows
  • team newsletters
  • team construction of WebQuests
  • creating a class or group web-page
  • team web tasks and projects
  • team "interviews" with guest experts, faculty and students from other schools or countries
  • "small group development of technology-enriched lessons" (TESOL teacher-training)

Tools to facilitate collaborative activities in online courses

Synchronous Tools



Asynchronous tools

Assessment of the Learners

  • interaction (amount and depth) in asynchronous discussions

  • breadth and depth of peer reviews
  • analytical scoring (rubrics) of team projects

Suggested Readings

Online Collaborative Learning in Higher Education--Primary Sites (http://clp.cqu.edu.au/primary_sites.htm)-- a resource compendium of links on the topic, including the

Boettcher, Judith V. (2005, May).  Designing for the Virtual Interactive ClassroomCampus Technology 8 (9), pp. 20, 22-3).  Available online at http://www.campus-technology.com/article.asp?id=11046.  The author reviews several synchronous collaboration tools used for Web or video conferencing, interactive classrooms, and screen sharing. She presents several scenarios and which tools are most appropriate for each situation.
Online Collaborative Learning in Higher Education

Kim, Kyung-Sun, & Moore, J. (Nov. 2005).  Web-based learning: Factors affecting students' satisfaction and learning experienceFirst Monday 10 (11). <http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_11/kim/>
Hanson-Smith, E., & Al Othman, B. (2004).  Tools for Online Collaboration. (http://www.geocities.com/ehansonsmi/reading_matrix/Tools_for_Collab.html)
Verhaart, M., & Kinshuk (2004).  Creating a virtual face-to-face delivery environment. <http://infosys.massey.ac.nz/~kinshuk/papers/deanz2004_michael_verhaart.pdf>
Dewar, Tammy (2003). Keyboard Voices: Reflections on Online Facilitation and Community Building. Calliope Learning   The e-book is available at no cost at http://www.calliopelearning.com/resources/papers/Keyboard.pdf,-- The author investigates questions like, "How do people make the transition to facilitating online? What have they learned about it? What issues do they struggle with? Why do they do it?" Tammy Dewar collected their "stories" and presents them in this collection of articles.
Interaction, Assessment and Collaboration in Online Courses--bibliography by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, and Barbara Sihombing, (2001). (http://www.peakpeak.com/~barbs/biblio.html)
Berge, Z. (2001). The Role of the Online Instructor/Facilitator. http://www.emoderators.com/moderators/teach_online.html
Collaborative Learning Online: An online bibliography and web resources page (1999) (http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/service/workshop/collab.html)
Warschauer, M. (1998).  Interaction, negotiation, and computer-mediated learning http://www.gse.uci.edu/faculty/markw/interaction.pdf