Blog entries written by Prof. Jonathan Acuña

Online Engagement in VLEs:
A Short Reflection on Cooperative Learning

There are intrinsic challenges related to student-centered learning in an
online course. In addition, designing and redesigning activities to promote
collaborative learning is also demanding. But even though, it is quite well
understood that this learning philosophy is extremely important in today’s
education; there are certain things that we instructors must keep in the lookout.

Among the challenges one can anticipate while facilitating a student-
centered, autonomous activity in one’s current or future online course, instructors
must understand what formal cooperative learning entitles.

1. Making pre-instructional decisions: Several decisions need to be made by
the teacher before s/he asks the class to break up into small groups to
fulfill a task. This is not just a random organization of students; learners
have to be thoughtfully grouped.
Blog entries written by Prof. Jonathan Acuña
2. Explaining the cooperative nature of the exercise: The teacher must
explain the learning objective to achieve and how students can succeed
in its completion by working cooperatively. Cooperation implies a joint
effort to succeed, not individual work.

3. Monitoring and assistance through the process: The instructor is present
through the process to assist and keep track of what is or is not
happening to provide feedback that can lead to success. Students do not
have to feel lonely.

4. Final assessment for the whole process and group: This needs to
highlight the individual and group accountability for the completion and
quality of the task and its result. The idea behind cooperative learning is
to facilitate the building of knowledge by at least two people.

Without the cooperation of students in class, it will be very difficult to
achieve any kind of cooperative learning in an online teaching setting. The fittest
students are the ones who can cooperatively work together towards the
achievement of learning outcomes that benefit the groups and their members, not
vice versa where members benefit themselves without helping others learn.

Johnson, D. & Johnson, R. (n.d.) An Overview of Cooperative Learning. Retrieved
on May, Sat 10, Cooperative Learning Institute Interaction Book Company
Blog entries written by Prof. Jonathan Acuña

 To fully comprehend the scope of this teaching reflections, it is highly advisable that
the following topics must be expanded further:
 Understanding Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)
 Autonomous Learning Vs. Cooperative Learning
 Types of Cooperative Learning
 Steps Towards Cooperative Learning

Professor Jonathan Acuña-Solano
ELT Trainer, Instructor & Curriculum Developer based in Costa Rica
Active NCTE – Costa Rica Member
Resource Teacher & Curricular Developer at CCCN
Senior ELT Instructor at Universidad Latina, Costa Rica, since 1998
Contact Information:
Twitter @jonacuso

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Blog entries written by Prof. Jonathan Acuña

Article published on Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to quote this blog entry:

Acuña, J. (2014, May 11). Online Engagement in VLEs: A Short Reflection on
Cooperative Learning. Retrieved from Reflective Online Teaching Website:

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