Co-operative learning has been suggested as the solution for wide array of educational problems. It is
often cited as a means of emphasising thinking skills and increasing higher-order learning; as an alternative
to ability grouping, remediation, or special education; as a means of improving race relations; and as a way
to prepare students for an increasingly collaborative work force. How many of these claims are justified?
What about the new BUZZ word E-LEARNING how does Co-operative learning apply or how do you create the same environment. Traditionally online courses are constructed in a way that does not stimulate interaction and cooperation. This is why the e-learning often is seen as individual and lonely.
When starting a course, the first thing to do is to make an open, friendly and inviting
atmosphere. By offering students a prestart week to learn to navigate in the virtual learning
environment and presenting tutorials which help students to navigate in the
platform they very soon manage the technical part of their new learning situation.
Then the participants are ready for their self presentations. An invitation from teachers is
presented on the bulletin board as well as a short video in which the teachers present
themselves. The use of pictures from their local surroundings and glimpses from both their
professional and their private lives gives a personal touch to the atmosphere in the classroom.
Students present themselves with a digital photo and a short description of who they are and
what they expect from the course.
In our experience an online chat in the first or second week is important. Students feel
themselves to be part of a group in the same classroom when meeting each other online in a
synchronic (at the same time) discussion forum.
Today many tools for online discussions are available. I have tried different chat facilities.
My main concern has been that it should be easy for all students to access the chat and it
should not require any extra equipment. When having an international group of students the
computer facilities are diverse and we do not want to exclude anyone from participation.