Collaborative learning through GitHub and blog writing

Prof. Amol M. Jagtap

With an increase in online learning environments, collaborative learning is becoming an increasingly popular method of engaging students. Collaborative learning is broadly defined as “a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together,” and more specifically as joint problem solving. Collaboration takes place within this joint problem space, which provides the structure needed to allow meaningful conversations about the problem. To construct a joint problem space, partners must have ways to introduce and accept knowledge, monitor exchanges for evidence of divergent meanings, and repair any divergences identified. Collaborative learning technologies range from communication tools that allow for synchronous and asynchronous text, voice, or video chat to online spaces that facilitate brainstorming, document editing, and remote presentations of topics.

Collaboration is sometimes distinguished from cooperative learning in that cooperation is typically accomplished through the division of labor, with each person responsible for some portion of the problem solving. Collaboration, on the other hand, involves participants working together on the same task, rather than in parallel on separate portions of the task.

Providing students with collaborative learning experiences not only promotes critical thinking and reflection but also encourages students to “develop sense of community, thus enabling the creation of an environment in which further collaborative work can happen”.

Studies have also shown that students working in online groups provide mentorship and technical support to their fellow group members, and develop communities that extend beyond the individual learning experience (Stacey 1999). These learning experiences often extend beyond the classroom, and can be particularly beneficial for students working on research projects. Librarians may also find it challenging to divide students into groups. They can either allow students to form their own groups or assign students to groups.

Teaching-Learning process in engineering education:

  • OBE
  • Active Learning
  • Life Long learning
  • Joyful learning

Different ways of traditional teaching in the classroom:

  • Taking long hour lectures.
  • Less interaction between students assuming, they have understood what I am teaching.
  • Students are not open ask queries/doubts.
  • So question of “I am Teaching, are they learning”?
  • Getting students to pay attention in class has been a challenge for educators in technology learning. What are the learning Style of our students?
    • Seeing and hearing;
    • Reflecting and acting;
    • Reasoning logically and intuitively;
    • Memorizing and visualizing;
    • Drawing analogies and building mathematical models
    • They need problem/scenario based teaching learning
    • Students learn more when they understand /see and feel the concepts using Innovative methods, software tools and techniques.
    • Engineering Education needs to move from a theoretical to practical approach of teaching.
    • The practical approaches of teaching play an important role to understand, involve and learn the course effectively.
  • We made an attempt to overcome the problems
  •  So as to transform the idle environment of student to collaborative learner.

1. GitHub

2. Creating  Blog

II. Problem Definition 

Objective of the engineering education is to prepare students for employ ability, efficient and lifelong learning, as well as to ensure them to solve the practical problems.

How to achieve? : – Joyful Learning

  • Getting students pay attention in class has been a challenge.
  • Mismatches exists between common learning styles of engineering students and traditional teaching styles of engineering professors.
  •  In the field of computer science, subjects are more imaginary and conceptual rather than practical.
  • Students become bored and inattentive in class, do poorly on tests and get discouraged about the courses, curriculum, and themselves.
  • Most seriously, society loses potentially excellent engineers

III. Problem Analysis

According to problem analysis methodology, process followed to identify key problems in Linux Operating System

  • Use of 4W and 1H Principle
  • Why students feel not interactive in classroom learning?
    •  Students want immediate outcome.
  • What makes it hard to get immediate outcomes?
    • Practical learning is required.
  • Where lies difficulty?
    •   Traditional teaching methods.
  • When traditional teaching methods are monotonous?
    • Interaction and collaboration between students should exist.
  • How to make joyful learning?
    • By using novel tools and techniques like online source management tools. Writing blogs, creating self-videos.
Fig1. The Fish Bone Diagram

IV. Development of Solution

Collaborative learning is an educational approach to teaching and learning that involves groups of students working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product.

Collaborative Learning is an interactive approach to teamwork that enables students to combine their individual skills and resources to generate creative solutions to mutually defined problems.

Collaborative Learning is:

  • Student centered
  • Lectures limited to setting the stage with a gradual release of responsibility to the student.
  • Role of teacher switches to “coach”.
  • Groups of learners working together.
  • A social activity- Social learning

Advantages of Collaborative:

– Development of higher level thinking skills:

 1. Creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning
2. Addresses learning style differences among students
3. Classroom resembles real life social and employment situations

Traditional group assignments are also collaborative learning?

If Yes than, are they effective to catch up the student interest.

If No, we need to think about time frame for assessment and individual student assessment. 

Why Collaborative Learning tools are very important in Linux and Open Source Subjects?

  • IT Industry transformation towards automation.
  • Skills required in open source technologies quite different than other software job profile.
  • New hiring skill by recruiter not on spot interviews but on how much programming contributed to open software.
  • Social connected learning improves the programming skills, creativity to write different logic and assessed by top people.

V.  Tools Used for Collaborative Learning

1. GitHub

What is GitHub?

  • GitHub offers several unique features to facilitate user collaboration.
  • Its most important feature is the Pull Request (PR) mechanism which is a way to initiate discussion with other users and share or comment on the various artifacts in a project (typically changes to the project’s content).
  • How does GitHub helps in collaborative education?

Allows students to cross-reference different solutions and encourages student collaboration (e.g., by using PRs) and peer learning.

“When you do a pull, you can see what the others in the seminar are doing. For example, a student wrote a python script, and others want to use it, so they can just grab it and use it.”

Example: https://github.com/bhavin192/mini/commits/gh-pages

Blogs

A blog (a truncation of the expression “weblog”)is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”).

A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself .

To  the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be.

Blog can be used to express your  course  knowledge on the web with open mind, so that  others can criticize, explore your content for good purpose.

Benefits for students from blogging:

  1. Earn Money
  2. Open assessment.
  3. Social connect.

Promotes autonomous learning by providing opportunities for students to take more control of their learning. Motivates students to become better readers and writers. Promotes discussion among students. Encourages the use of the Internet and the Web among students (and teachers)

Blogs Sample:

Blogs Sample

Foreseen Benefits:

  • Open source tool helps to feel the concepts.
  • Interactive teaching learning using project based, problem based learning and Group discussion.
  • Continuous touch between students within students using web based apps which today’s generation loves lot.

“I Hear  I Forget”

“I See I Remember”

“I Do I Understand”.

V.  Future Scope

The use cases we performed to make joyful learning for students given us great experience and those use case will be performed in other theoretical computer science subject.

Implement online meeting using FreeNode.com which is very useful.

VI.   Conclusion

Adopting the practical approach of teaching makes students to understand the concepts and relate to the real time applications easily. Group activities were attempted in course which helped for reinforcing difficult concepts and allowed students to articulate their ideas.

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