Week 4

EDET 674 Week 4 Essential Question: What lessons might we take from successful (and unsuccessful) OCL Institutional Innovations and from the concept of the Community of Practice (CoP)?

Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) Institutional Innovations are classes offered online, using the Web or a designated Intranet. OCL Institutional Innovations offer grant degrees, diplomas and certificates, which follow the institutional policies and practices associated with online delivery (Moore, et.al, page 127). The context of Community of Practice (CoP) refers to “relatively tight knit groups of professionals engaged in a common practice, who communicate, negotiate and share their best practice with one another directly… CoPs exist outside of a workplace, but within a particular profession,” (Moore, et.al, page 141).

There are many lessons we can take away from both OCL Institutional Innovations and the concept of CoP, that are both successful and unsuccessful. For instance, quality education for students, and professional development. At the University of Phoenix Online (UPXO) they focus on the collaborative learning model. The successes in UPXO reflect their small class sizes, ranging from 10-12 students per class. They can focus on group discussion and project-based learning, which are delivered asynchronously. Students are able to complete their coursework through electronic forums, communicate with classmates, instructors and counselors, and complete all activities online (page 128). Another innovative policy of UXPO is their state-of-the-art learning resources, ex: “virtual organizations.” Which are online teaching tools designed to simulate the experience of working environments (page 129). They also have online student support services 24/7, and through their campus website, access to email, classes, and student services.

An example of an institute that focuses on professional development, is the State University of New York (SUNY) Learning Network. SLN is invested in their research and evaluation of courses. Faculty surveys reported educators being satisfied or very satisfied with online teaching and would do it again. SLN has identified 5 key elements of successful online faculty development (page 131):

  1. models- peer lead trainings, cohorts, exemplar courses, returning teacher trainings.
  2. support roles- instructional design support, technical help-desk, etc.
  3. approaches- faculty-driven course design
  4. evaluation- ongoing evaluations at both the course and institutional levels
  5. quality- templates, and course designing are addressed through quality mechanisms to help make the technology and design process transparent.

An example of an OCL institute that has some disadvantages is The International Labour Organization. They are aimed at providing educational opportunities to people and organizations in developing countries. The courses focus on the workplace: employment policies, social protection, gender equality, child labor, health and safety, labor migration and trade union (Moore, et.al, page 132). While providing online education in developing countries is always a good thing, some disadvantages include unreliable electricity supplies, poor telephone facilities, and expensive Internet (Moore, et.al, page 133).

Despite all the advantages of OCL, there are some disadvantages such as (Chiong, et.al, 2012):

  1. a sense of not having full control over the quality of the group work and the subsequently assigned grade;
  2. concerns that there might be a group member with less than satisfactory performance for whom other members will have to compensate;
  3. time required for effective collaboration – group work requires students to stick to a particular schedule, thus reducing the flexibility and convenience of online learning.

The CoP has a lot of advantages. People who share the same interest come together to deepen their knowledge and expertise on an ongoing basis (page 142). Not only do people share their insights, but also they contribute to advancing knowledge by solving new problems together and documenting their findings. This is the process called reification. There is a downside to reification however. “Reification as a constituent of meaning is always incomplete, ongoing, potentially enriching, and potentially misleading,” (page 142). Assigning the status of object to something, that is really not an object, conveys a sense of mistaken solidity. According to (Probst, et.al, 2008), the main reasons for failure of CoPs, are lack of a core group, low levels of one-to-one interaction, and failure to engage with one another in a way that allows them to illustrate the practice and visualize its function.


Chiong, R., & Jovanovic, J. (2012). Collaborative Learning in Online Study Groups: An … Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol11/JITEv11p081-101Chiong1104.pdf

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Probst, G., & Borzillo, S. (2008). Why communities of practice succeed and why they fail. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://herbsleb.org/SCALEpapers/probst-why-2008.pdf


4 thoughts on “Week 4

  1. Teresa


    Taking a look at the UXPO as a successful framework for online classes and degrees is beneficial for any distance program. Having the resources that they have including the 24/7 support services is so important for student success. In looking at SUNY I was surprised to see that returning teachers also had training. It’s common for new teachers to go through training, but a lot of times returning teachers are not required to have much or any training, which if it covers the right material, is really beneficial not only for those teachers, but the students they’re going to be working with. Ongoing evaluations is key as well. If teachers know they’re continuously being evaluated, they’re more likely to be on top of their game.

    You mentioned the disadvantages of OCL in the ILO. Some of these disadvantages are also present in rural Alaska, specifically expensive Internet. The cost of Internet in the bush is outrageous compared to urban areas, and furthermore, is slower and less reliable.



  2. Mariah Smith


    Your focus on the students in successful OCL’s was refreshing for me to read about because thats what really matters in these courses. The disadvantages that you mentioned are very valid and I appreciated the points you made that students might feel at a disadvantage while working in groups during the OCL. Many times I get overwhelmed or not sure how to feel when working with groups in online courses. I get worried about communication mainly and I feel like miscommunication can make it or break it when working groups. This is to keep in mind for students who are taking online courses to just jump in and try to their best in communicating with students. Thank you!


  3. Genevieve, thanks for your insight on OCL’s and the contributions as well as the disadvantages. It seems as though often in education that everyone is quick to get on the bandwagon of a new idea, without taking with them the wisdom of the ages in learning and teaching. There are moments, people, and situations that simply require learning in isolation. Thanks much.


  4. Hi Genevieve,
    In your blog, you mentioned about the disadvantages of the OCL. I think one more disadvantage is that it’s harder to make friends with classmates in OCL as compare to a face-to-face class. For me sometime it’s harder to remember a classmates’ major, job and experience without having a real face-to-face chat with them.


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