Designing and facilitating cross-country collaborative learning in a professional education context

Sarah Catharine Cornelius, Blair Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


Technology creates rich opportunities for collaboration involving learners in different countries and contexts. However, access to technology does not guarantee interaction and educators need to design and support authentic and meaningful activities that build knowledge. In a professional education setting programmes of study are underpinned by national occupational standards and requirements, and participants may be combining work and study. Educators need to ensure that collaboration is integrated effectively within local course frameworks and professionally relevant to all participants.

This paper reports on ongoing work to support learning through online collaboration for participants on an in-service teaching qualification for Further Education in Scotland and a programme for vocational educators in Finland. Using an action research framework, collaborative activities have been designed, implemented and evaluated over two academic years. Collaboration design is underpinned by the ambition to raise vocational educators’ intercultural awareness through meaningful and manageable collaborative tasks that can be achieved within existing course structures, requirements and timetables.

Drawing on feedback from learners and other evidence, this paper explores the diversity of participants’ experiences and the educator perspective. Learner experiences have been mixed, with some participating and benefitting in planned as well as unanticipated ways, whilst others have faced challenges getting collaboration started. Preliminary findings suggest that learners may find their own ways to collaborate, choosing and employing appropriate (and sometimes new) technologies. Findings also suggest that designers and facilitators of cross-country online collaboration need to: commit to supporting each other’s course outcomes and learners; encourage engagement in the task by developing learners’ sense of belonging and commitment; design manageable and meaningful activities relevant to learners; and continually encourage and monitor progress.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2015
EventSOLSTICE - Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jun 20155 Jun 2015


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • online learning
  • global learning
  • Vocational Education
  • professional education
  • intercultural learning
  • online collaboration


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