Care, Communication, Learner Support: Designing Meaningful Online Collaborative Learning

Heather A. Robinson, Whitney Kilgore, Scott J. Warren, online learning, Dec 11, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The authors writem, "The three main themes that emerged from this study were: the importance of online communication approaches, challenges and supports for online collaborative learning, and that care is at the core of online learner support" (note that the abstract expresses this quite differently). I include this paper here not so much to address these issues (though I certianly have my own opinions) but to ask readers to think about the methodology. The study is based on interviews with four higher edeucation instructors. The authors assert "it was conducted through a post-Positivist paradigm and the findings are not intended to generalize," which is good. But why is this presented as 'research' rather than, say, 'argument' or 'perspectives'? The reserachers knew what they were looking for at the start; "the interviews focused on care expressions in digital delivery settings made within each instructor case." I think there are arguments to be made for the three themes, and they are cogently assembled here, but it just seems misleading to represent them here as discovered through reserach. Read more articles from the special issue on the AERA Online Teaching and Learning SIG.

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