Madrid Open University (UDIMA) (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4582-4588
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Distance Education is a broad term that refers to any mode of teaching and learning in which there is a separation, in time or place, between the professor or instructor and student. As distance education has evolved, it has become inseparably linked to technology and knowledge management. Technology and new Internet-based learning environments provide different ways of collaborative learning and interaction to enhance the learning process. Technology systems involve information and asynchronous and synchronous communication between teacher and learners, and learners between themselves. In conjunction with the advances in technology in distance education, on-line collaborative learning is more and more easy among students that are situated in locations geographically disperse. Despite of the physical distance, they are able to share applications, work in the same document, achieve common goals and deliver an unique report as a team. Furthermore, they can discuss and share ideas with their colleagues in real time (synchronous way) through videoconferencing systems. In this context, on-line collaborative learning is defined as a team process of building knowledge and completing assignment on-line in which people work jointly in interaction, generate a process of knowledge construction, come to an understanding and organize their work in order to reach common goals.

The main aim of this paper is to present the experience of collaborative learning in Madrid Open University (UDIMA) in which students worked in team to perform a specific assignment by using on-line collaborative tools (Google Drive) and Hangouts videoconferencing system. The experience of on-line collaborative learning has been developed in different subjects related to Psychology and Tourism management in which students had been organized in teams of 4 or 5 people. Students received specific assignment instructions in order to work in team on-line during 25 days. Upon completion of the assignment, each team delivered the report in the mailbox enabled in the virtual classroom. Before the evaluation and qualification of the teams work, a short survey had been conducted and 712 students shared their on-line collaborative learning experience.

In general, 97% of respondents argued that they were very satisfied with the experience and think they had achieved the learning objectives through on-line collaborative learning. 94% claimed they valued positively the use of Google Hangouts in teamwork process. 72% alleged that at the beginning they were pessimistic because they thought they would not get profitable and the group would not work properly. 98% said they would recommend this kind of on-line collaborative experience to other students. They underlined some key factors for successful on-line collaborative learning related to membership characteristics, importance of the professor's guidance, team process and structure, environment and technology, styles of communication, etc.

Furthermore, this paper underlined some didactic problems encountered, and discussed the role of teacher/professor as guide in the on-line collaborative learning process. In the same line, some practical learning implications and recommendations are discussed.
Collaborative Learning, Google Drive, Hangouts, Distance Education, Information Technology.