Development of an online collaborative learning model for social work education


Nancy Francisco Stewart

Doctoral candidate/Assistant Instructor

School of Social Work, The U. of Texas at Austin

1925 San Jacinto Blvd.

Austin Texas 78212 USA

Joe Sanchez

Training Specialist

Center for Instructional Technology/U. of Texas Austin

Computation Center G-2700

Austin TX 78756 USA


Collaborative learning model, online learning


An online collaborative learning model, developed from an analysis of student perceptions of an introductory social work class piloting Blackboard 5 in Fall, 2000, suggests establishing trust, empowerment and modeling social work values of cooperative relationships promotes receptivity to learning from others with improved outcomes of participation and knowledge. The model also suggests access and technological barriers do not affect outcomes for marginalized students if there is an atmosphere of worth.


One undergraduate course in the School of Social Work participated in the pilot of Blackboard 5 across the University in the Fall of 2000. A course goal is to offer experiential learning as well as develop informed citizens about social work and social welfare policy. Large classes present a challenge in developing collaborative learning and teaching techniques.  There is limited research linking the application of online learning theories, specific technology and social work. This paper presents a theoretical model of on-line collaborative learning developed from an analysis of student perceptions of their use of Blackboard 5 in this large introductory class. Using a grounded theory qualitative analysis of the textual data, nine factors were identified as components of their experiences.  The pilot study suggests that web technology enhances collaborative learning and includes diversity rather than excluding participation. Online collaborative learning develops skills and relationships across the university for both faculty and students.