Online Collaborative Learning requires the instructor or facilitator to carefully think through and to front load the mode, the means and the methods by which the students will interact with one another to solve a problem or series of problems in sync with one another and in reliance with one another. Because there isn’t a set program of instructions or a layout of sorts for an instructor to follow, she must use the very method to build the assignment or the course as she is asking her students to use. It then becomes a circular form of learning and teaching which at first glance may appear confusing, but from a farther vantage point, makes perfect sense and reflects natural learning.
dialogue among the students, clear expectations, and access to the digital format appear to be the three primary criteria for a successful OCL. Beyond this, the most important element is clearly going to be trust among the collective and between the students and the instructor. The question I am left with, is this: If trust is built over time, through basic interpersonal communication, using all of the tools at our disposal in a normal face to face situation, how much more challenging is it going to be to establish this kind of trust in an online situation that would not only encourage member contribution, but would require it?