What is a student collaboration

Student collaboration online - a blessing or a curse?

It is difficult to give a clear answer to whether student collaboration is a blessing or a curse. Because collaboration can be linked to positive expectations or memories, or it can end in fears that many students have when they interact in heterogeneous teams. In this respect, cooperation among students is always challenging and offers potential that can sometimes be exploited, but is not absolutely necessary. If, for example, one takes the aspect of knowledge exchange among students, the contradictions in student cooperation can be clearly seen episodically.

Flashback. I remember all too well. One day I was in a class about knowledge management and suddenly I was supposed to share my knowledge. It was kind of a strange feeling, because I worked for this knowledge for a long time, almost amassed it. And should I share that all at once just because digital media allow it? Strange. The other students could copy me off. You could enrich yourself with my knowledge. You could save yourself learning processes by simply adopting my knowledge. And anyway: What do I get if I share my knowledge? But I don't want to be like that, my lecturer will have already thought of something when I upload my task solutions to the learning management system. And I quickly learned that it was exciting to read what the others were writing. Sometimes what is expected of you isn't all that bad. I remembered.

A few years later, same university, different situation. I was about to write my bachelor thesis and wondered what a work like that should look like. Surely there are ideas about the professors that I have to fulfill, or a pattern that I can adhere to ... right? I quickly realized that there are some standards, including citation rules, for example. But I also had to realize that specific ideas about the type and scope of the work depend to a great extent on the supervisor; There are also disciplinary differences that are largely implicit and are only recorded as a result of growing into a subject. So I was all the happier that back then, in 2005, I was able to find exactly three excellent bachelor theses from my own degree program on the Internet. With the help of the examples I managed to get an overview of the requirements of a thesis. And a year later we created w.e.b.Square. So that other students fare better with their bachelor thesis.

Exchange is important at all times - perhaps even more important, the deeper one delves into scientific topics. Because science means learning to understand, knowing about positions and finding your own. In any case, this experience sticks in my mind when I think back to my doctorate. What is my position on learning through cooperation? Is cooperation good per se? What opportunities for collaboration exist in other formal educational institutions? As luck would have it, the phenomenon of cooperation also becomes the subject of my doctoral thesis. And the search for a position for cooperation on a longer-term task. I would not have found her without the exchange with other PhD students and interested parties. Because exchange means weighing up and means constantly searching for your own opinion. And so cooperation has a significant effect on me as a person.

All situations are true. All situations are characterized by positive experiences of the exchange and by uncertain moments in cooperation that expect trust from the cooperating partners. And they are common. They actually always occur when you want to encourage students to work together - with or without digital media - and at the same time initiate cross-group exchange. Because, as a student, doctoral candidate and later as a lecturer, I have learned that much: Working with other people is a challenge. Working together with other people via the Internet makes knowledge cooperation easier per se, but also more complex in its various facets. Because the dangers mentioned can never be completely prevented. But you can prepare students for the opportunities and limits of knowledge exchange. By frequently interacting with one another in formal teaching-learning settings, for example, by cooperating among their own kind and thus also building relationships with one another, by feeling obliged, yes, responsible for one another. Because knowledge cooperation has a lot to do with the personal attitude towards exchange, which can also be encouraged. In any case, I have learned my "lesson", which I now gladly pass on to my students.

In all situations, space for communal discussion is important, that is, the experience of cooperation. The current w.e.b.Square edition is intended to give students the space to deal with different forms of collaboration on the internet. Under the motto "Student Cooperation on the Net - Blessing or Curse", contributions were collected with the help of a call for papers. Several contributions came together, four of which will be published with this issue. Christopher Könitz and Wolfgang Ruge ask about them why the idea of ​​networked collaboration is an invention of book culture. Christina Bülow advocates a lively discussion culture on the Internet and thus seizes the excellent opportunities for participation on the Internet. These are currently rarely used. This applies to learning on the Internet in general and for learning at the university in particular, so that Maximilian Speicher asks why the potential of Web 2.0 remains unused among students. Theresia Meyer concludes with a provocative formulation: "Don't want to blog ?!" With her text, the author gives insights into her own empirical study with regard to acceptance and motivation for blogging at the University of Augsburg.

On behalf of the entire w.e.b.Square editorial team, I hope you enjoy reading the current issue.

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