Humans are social beings and this affects how we learn. Social learning theory, developed by Albert Bandura (1977), suggests that people learn from one another via observation, imitation, and modeling. Socialization online has become a driving force in people’s lives, particularly with the rise of social media and social networking. Collaborative and cooperative learning are popular instructional strategies in online teaching with students working together to solve problems, complete projects, and learn from one another through discourse (Roberts, 2004).
Linda Harasim’s (2012) online collaborative theory provides a framework for how learners construct knowledge in an online community in which ideas are generated, organized, compared, analyzed, and categorized through discussion and argument. Learners eventually reach ‘intellectual convergence’ where consensus is reached, including agreeing to disagree, usually through a group deliverable such as a project, although the learning never really ends. This is referred to as ‘project-based learning’ where students are presented with a problem to solve or question to answer and work on this collaborative project for an extended period of time (Roberts, 2004).
Student-to-student engagement activities in an online course can include collaborative tools such as discussion boards, group projects, wikis, blogs, and peer assessments.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Harasim, L. (2012). Learning theory and online technologies. New York: Routledge.
Roberts, T. (2004). Online collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.