Which role plays the time factor in virtual collaborative learning?

Collaborative processes are a key element for on-line learning. In fact, collaboration is seen as a key feature for on-line learning (Badia and Garcia, 2006; Garrison, 2006; Gunawardena and Zittle, 1997, Harasim et al., 2000; Kirschner, 2002; Majo and Marques, 2002) . These processes even appear in the name of learning processes that take place over the network , such as the “e -learning collaborative networking” (McConnell, 2006) or “learning network” (Harasim et al., 2000). The EHEA also recognizes the importance of these processes to work in society, defining teamwork as generic competition within the project Tuning Educational Structures in Europe .

According to the project developed by the eLearn Center of the UOC about time factor, this becomes another key element for on-line learning. Bullen (2010, in Bates et al., 2010 ) says: learning, by definition, requires time, being present in any learning activity. This factor is even more important in a virtual environment, which is flexible in terms of time, ensuring flexibility in the learning process (Bates, 2010 in Bates et al., 2010). Student profile also tends to be an adult with a reduced time availability .

The recently published monograph “The effects of time on collaborative online learning ” by the eLearn Center analysed together the two elements. Specifically, it propose to explore how the time factor affects collaborative learning processes and the role it plays, from two aspects: time management in collaborative learning processes and time management in relation to the context in which is developed (in this case, virtual) (Guitert, 2011).

The monograph has been coordinated by Montse Guitert, principal investigator of Edul@b group. Other members of Edul@b that participated are Marc Romero, Joseph Hopkins and Maria Perez-Mateo. They have also collaborated Bartolomé Rubia , Christopher Suarez, Pedro Román , Manuel Area, Iolanda Garcia and Juan Domingo, as members of the thematic network on virtual collaborative learning, led by Montse Guitert.

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