The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education

Why Does Collaborative Learning Not Always Work Even When the Appropriate Tools Are Available?

Perienen APPAVOO
Kaviraj Sharma SUKON
Abheenaye Chauhan GOKHOOL
Vandanah GOORIA

Today, more and more working adults are opting for the Open Distance Learning (ODL) mode to pursue their tertiary studies as it offers them the flexibility to study anywhere, any time and at one’s own pace. But studying at a distance can be problematic for many learners, with the absence of regular traditional face-to-face sessions. Some find it difficult to adapt to this new learning environment and become easily isolated. Collaborative Learning (CL) can help overcome this isolation and boost learning performance. To investigate the implications of CL in the ODL environment, a study was conducted with 155 learners at the Open University of Mauritius. The study revealed that at least one third of the respondents were not participating in CL and were thus missing on the benefits of “learning together”. The others had adopted CL to understand the course content, discuss assignments and get better marks. This study also showed that tutors’ role was vital in encouraging learners delve in CL. Respondents deplored the lack of appropriate infrastructure and meeting places to hold CL meetings. They also reported lack of awareness of the benefits of CL and difficulty in finding time due to family and professional commitment as some of the obstacles to CL.

KEYWORDS: Collaborative learning, technological tools, group work, open and distance learning, social interaction, Open University.

DOI : 10.17718/tojde.640500