EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative 2009 Online Fall Focus Session

Flattening the Classroom: Building Collaborative Learning Environments
“While the dynamic force in Globalization 1.0 was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0—the force that gives it its unique character—is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally. And the phenomenon that is enabling, empowering, and enjoining individuals and small groups to go global so easily and so seamlessly is what I call the flat-world platform...”
—Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat

computer usersNet Gen students are active and prolific participants in flat-world phenomena in their personal lives: posting updates to Facebook friends scattered around the globe, playing online games with teams crossing international time zones, and collaborating on digital works bearing the imprint of multiple contributors. At the same time, the global economy demands students who can think creatively, build collectively, and adapt willingly to change. Are we fostering those skills in the classroom?

Join us September 23–24 for "Flattening the Classroom: Building Collaborative Learning Environments," the 2009 ELI Online Fall Focus Session. Hosted in Adobe Connect, this virtual event will be much more than just a "usual" online seminar. You’ll exchange ideas and collaborate interactively with the ELI community—all without leaving your campus. You'll also receive all the resources and guided activities you need to help frame discussion and organize team events.

We’ll explore an approach to learning that engages students in the active construction of collective knowledge, empowering them to build meaning together, and challenging them to examine issues from multiple perspectives. We will work together to:

  • Develop an understanding of what it means to effectively collaborate in the classroom
  • Create a framework for the design of meaningful and purposeful activities in the classroom
  • Reflect on the potential for social learning to promote critical thinking and spark student discussion
  • Explore emerging practices for designing collaborative environments in physical spaces and virtual environments
  • Consider assessment strategies for collaborative activities


Is This Event for You?

This virtual event will bring together a variety of professionals to examine how today’s technologies can help faculty and instructional staff design collaborative learning environments, erasing the walls between our disciplines and our institutions. The session will be valuable for:

  • Information technology professionals
  • Learning technologists
  • Faculty
  • Administrators
  • Librarians
  • Others functioning in related roles

You will receive the greatest value from this online session if you attend as member of a team or host a group event on your campus. Team participation can help your institution advance a current or upcoming project or encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. Team members find that active discussion and engagement with each other during focus-session activities builds rapport, solidifies plans, and enriches collaboration. By sharing a common focus-session experience, participants can reflect on the implications for their campus.

What We Will Do

  • Explore collaborative environments across a variety of disciplines
  • Identify the role IT can play in the delivery and evaluation of collaborative activities
  • Develop strategies to help faculty introduce and sustain collaborative activities in their courses
  • Engage in dialogue with a community of professionals focused on how to integrate and evaluate collaborative learning across the curriculum

How You Will Prepare

You’ll be asked to complete presession activities and a survey in preparation for the event. Please also visit the Getting Ready for the Focus Session page to read more about technical requirements and informal networking opportunities before the event begins.

We recommend that teams consider the ways they can interact both inside the online learning environment and together on campus. Resources and guided activities will be provided in the Learning Commons to help you frame discussion on campus and organize team events.