Assessing participation in a collaborative learning environment can be done by both the instructor and the participants. The instructor usually has a rubric or some type of scoring tool to measure the quality and quantity of work completed by the students. The students can, however, assess each other by responding to surveys generated by the instructor that addresses the individual and collaborative effort of each group member (Laureate Education Inc., 2008). The instructor must keep in mind the diverse skill background that students often bring to distance learning interfaces and provide some resources for training (online) and information about technologies that will be required to complete specific assignments (Palloff &Pratt, 2007).
Sometimes a student may be reluctant to participate in a online collaborative learning community due to unfamiliarity of the environment or task (Laureate Education Inc., 2008). The instructor must model the effort and establish a non-threatening atmosphere without compromising the expectations for the class (Palloff &Pratt, 2007). The members of the learning community can provide a positive community with support for the member that is reluctant or unwilling to participate. It is understood that everyone’s contribution is necessary for desired success. However, there may be times when a community may have to regroup and redistribute responsibilities so that the completion of the assignment stays intact (Palloff &Pratt, 2007). The reluctant student is still responsible for the outcomes of the effort and should still be assessed as the other students will be assessed (Laureate Education Inc., 2008).
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of Distance Education. Baltimore: Author
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass