Research & Consulting: Digital Learning and Work

Teaching Collaborative Synthetic Research, Ontario Tech University, Canada

About Project

Dr Todd Blayone designed and facilitated a two-semester (eight-month) fully online course for the Faculty of Education, Ontario Tech University, Canada. This capstone course for fourth-year undergraduates completing the BA in Adult Learning and Digital Technologies deployed a collaborative, ‘real world’ orientation. AEDT4200 focused on introducing secondary social-scientific research and producing a team-based research proposal. AEDT4201 scaffolded the development of a final manuscript and guided research teams through a submission and review process.

Project Info


This two-semester course deployed a fully online, collaborative, problem-based approach to producing and revising a synthetic research manuscript for publication. It was completed successfully by almost fifty undergraduate students at Ontario Tech University, Canada, from mixed backgrounds.

The Result

The results were promising. Four of ten (five-member) research teams produced a quality synthetic research manuscript at a high undergraduate standard. Two other teams produced manuscripts at an early graduate-level standard! Four groups struggled with both the research and collaboration requirements of the course. In a few cases, internal team conflicts foregrounded issues related to differences in student readiness, cultural diversity and the university’s inclusive admission practices. Importantly, only 5% of the participants (n=48) opted out of the team-based process or the authentic activities, seeking refuge in more traditional academic work. Overall, this was a successful experiment in fully online collaborative learning.

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