National University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Page: 256 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Online and collaborative learning have been identified as driving trends in higher education today (Johnson, Adams, Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014). Over 6.7 million students have taken at least one online class, more than 32% of all higher education students (Allen & Seaman, 2011). However, many students report dissatisfaction with content, process, and lack of engagement, especially when online learning is a static, instructor-led discussion (Adams, Defleur, & Heald, 2007). Fredericks (2004) posited that student engagement facilitates success and retention. He identified behavioral engagement with academic and social activities, emotional engagement with positive and negative reactions to people and activities, and cognitive engagement with reflective and integrative thinking. Creative and collaborative assignments by nature can engage students on behavioral, emotional and cognitive levels; their increased engagement leads to improved learning outcomes.

Online instructors need to go beyond their role as content experts as they facilitate a learning community’s interactions and promote tasks to engage students in a virtual environment. Besides lectures, video clips, assigned readings, and discussions, how can online instructors promote creativity and collaboration? Furthermore, how can instructors assess and evaluate assignments that require creative and collaborative efforts on the part of the students?

Assessment and accountability can be problematic in collaborative group work for a variety of reasons. Hard working students who take pride in their work resent peers who have a more lackadaisical approach. It’s not uncommon that the most motivated students will do the work of the least to maintain their high standards, and often, instructors do not have the data to hold all students individually accountable for a group’s output. The online learning platform can provide rich opportunities for group collaboration with rigorous individual accountability. Specific pedagogical approaches can facilitate student learning while also allowing instructors to fairly and equitably evaluate each student’s individual contribution to the group effort.

Assessment of creative assignments can also pose challenges, as aesthetic quality is often very individualized. How does one compare works from Mozart to Rodin to Chagall? Although creative and artistic endeavors cannot be evaluated with the same kind of metrics that multiple choice tests can employ, rubrics with general descriptors of gradations of quality can be useful. Furthermore, providing examples of weak, acceptable, and exemplary products can also provide guidance on grading criteria.

Done appropriately, online education can be an engaging, creative, and collaborative venue for teaching and learning. Using the proper tools and supports, instructors can present tasks, tools and guidelines that require students to be creative and collaborative. This session will present one multifaceted project that requires creativity and collaboration while holding all students accountable for their individual work. The Parent Tip Sheet gives parents and families information about the teacher, his/her classroom procedures, and community resources. Students review class resources, create a rough draft of their tip sheet, share it with a small group of peers who provide feedback, finalize their tip sheets for grading by the instructor, and then distribute to their parents and families.
Creativity, collaboration, assessment, accountability, online teaching and learning.