Two design models for online collaborative learning: same or different?

Tony Bates, Online learning and distance education resources, Nov 30, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Tony Bates looks at "what we might call the Toronto school, Linda Harasim and her former colleagues at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in Toronto (although Linda has been firmly based for 25 years at SFU in Vancouver/Burnaby), and the Alberta school, Randy Garrison, and colleagues Terry Anderson and Walter Archer." Both sets of thinkers were influential in Canadian distance education in the 90s and beyond. Interestingly - but perhaps not surprisingly - both sets were interested in what Harasim called online collaborative learning (OCL) and the other three called the Community of Inquiry Model (CoI). As Bates says, "online collaborative learning can lead to deep, academic learning, or transformative learning, as well as, if not better than, discussion in campus-based classrooms." But it doesn't scale well, and requires the contribution of skilled instructors.

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