Toward Project-based Learning and Team Formation in Open Learning Environments

Howard Spoelstra, Peter Van Rosmalen, Peter Sloep

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    Open Learning Environments, MOOCs, as well as Social Learning Networks, embody a new approach to learning. Although both emphasise interactive participation, somewhat surprisingly, they do not readily support bond creating and motivating collaborative learning opportunities. Providing project-based learning and team formation services in Open Learning Environment can overcome these shortcomings. The differences between Open Learning Environments and formal learning settings, in particular with respect to scale and the amount and types of data available on the learners, suggest the development of automated services for the initiation of project-based learning and team formation. Based on current theory on project-based learning and team formation, a team formation process model is presented for the initiation of projects and team formation. The data it uses is classified into the categories “knowledge”, “personality” and “preferences”. By varying the required levels of inter-member fit on knowledge and personality, the team formation process can favour different teamwork outcomes, such as facilitating learning, creative problem solving or enhancing productivity. The approach receives support from a field survey. The survey also revealed that in every-day teaching practice in project-based learning settings team formation theory is little used and that project team formation is often left to learner self-selection. Furthermore, it shows that the data classification we present is valued differently in literature than in daily practice. The opportunity to favour different team outcomes is highly appreciated, in particular with respect to facilitating learning. The conclusions demonstrate that overall support is gained for the suggested approach to project-based learning and team formation and the development of a concomitant automated service.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-76
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Universal Computer Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


    • Open Learning Environment
    • MOOCs
    • Social Learning Network
    • Project-based learning
    • Project team formation
    • Team formation service
    • MOOC


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