Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

ORMS: Online Collaborative Inquiry

on July 23, 2015

Online Collaborative Inquiry is an important cornerstone of the Online Research & Media Skills (ORMS) model. We define online collaborative inquiry as students’ ability to locate and extract information online and work with others to research and develop an ongoing representation of their knowledge. A large focus of online collaborative inquiry is the editing, responding, and revision that can be done in groups to deepen student motivation, engagement, and learning. The use of online tools such as blogs, wikis, websites, etc. make this type of collaboration and ongoing learning easily accessible.

In order to create a learning environment where this type of work is possible, I think it is essential for students to understand the purpose for their work. In her article, Online Collaborative Inquiry: Classroom Blogging Ventures and Multiple Literacies, Judy Arzt writes, “It is not the technology that accounts for success. It is how the technology is implemented and integrated into the curriculum that accounts for student achievement” (2012). As teachers, we need to help students understand the intended audience for their online collaborative work to provide a real-world context. For example, if students engage in group blogging, it would be important for them to understand the intended audience, the intended purpose for their blog, criteria for appropriate blogging, and each group member’s blogging responsibilities.

she thought she could so she didIf we provide students with a clear context and audience for their online collaborative work, we can encourage intrinsic motivation. Students will feel motivated to do quality research, writing, and collaboration because they will feel a new sense of accountability and purpose. I believe that we can empower students with internal motivation to succeed.

In his video, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, Dan Pink refers to a study done in the business workplace that illustrates the phenomena that when tasks require conceptual creative thinking, big rewards (like bonuses) are not motivating. These high risk rewards in fact serve as a barrier to creative thinking and motivation. If we think about this research in a school setting, blogging for a specific audience with an intended purpose would empower students to do good work and be collaborative and creative and not rely on more traditional external rewards like teacher feedback and final grades.

Online collaborative inquiry can be used in many subjects in an elementary classroom. I found the table, “Pedagogical Ideas for Blogging Integration” (Arzt 2012) to be helpful because of the practical suggestions offered for an elementary level classroom. In my class I will definitely try group blogging to share student research and synthesis of information from our Social Studies and Science units of study. I can integrate video/news casting into our persuasive writing unit that requires students to present a problem and argue for a solution to the problem. This real-world audience would be a huge motivator for students to write detailed and empowered speeches.

I also envision using more online texts to support my lower readers. In, The New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension: New Opportunities and Challenges for Students with Learning Difficulties, authors Castek, Zawilinski, McVerry, O’Byrne, & Leu argue that struggling readers, “make good decisions at crucial points in the online reading-comprehension process and access useful digital features…reading shorter units of text leads to more sustained reading by struggling readers.” (2011) I would love to use a wider variety of online texts to support my low readers and help them feel empowered by their reading success.

Teachers can use various online tools to support student collaboration and inquiry in a meaningful way. Articles like these are critical to provide educators with the practical uses for technology to support student learning and open new doors for discovery and motivation.


7 responses to “ORMS: Online Collaborative Inquiry

  1. John Vieira says:


    I too am becoming a big fan of blogging as we get deeper into our coursework. I have already been thinking about how I am going to incorporate blogging into my SLO for this coming school year. I want students to be able to create their own content and share with others, creating a social learning community in the classroom that fosters active lisening and respect to others’ viewpoints. Have you thought about which blogging platform you might use with your class?


    • Erin says:

      Great idea about making blogging be a part of your SLO!


    • nicoleryan2 says:

      I love the idea of using blogging as part of your SLO! I imagine the cognitive engagement of students would skyrocket with the real world audience and peer feedback. I did some preliminary research into blogs for elementary students and found KidBlog and EduBlog to be popular. Which platforms have you looked into?


  2. wiobyrne says:

    Great post Nicole.

    I was thinking/hoping that you were going to discuss the role of gender as our students collaborate online and offline given the image you shared. I think there are numerous challenges in the way women are viewed online, and in tech. We need to start thinking about what we can do in our classrooms to change this.


  3. ntteach96 says:

    I also liked the table Pedagogical Ideas for Blogging Integration. I especially like the idea of animal blogging. I am going to brainstorm how I can do this at a Kindergarten level. We have done Animal Mystery Skypes. They are so much fun and the students are totally engaged while learning about animals. Maybe there is some creative way to link the learning to a blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erin says:

    Nicole, the quote you highlighted from Judy Arzt also spoke to me. It is a shame when classrooms have technology, but are not using it in the best and most effective way. All too often a class iPad become nothing more than a personal arcade used as a reward for good behavior. I like your idea of using blogs along with news casts for persuasive writing. I highly recommend the “Green Screen by Do Ink” app if you wanted to incorporate green screen technology. I found some looped newsroom backgrounds that work well with it. You don’t even need a green screen, just a solid color wall since the chroma key technology can be adjusted to any color.


  5. nicoleryan2 says:

    Thank you for the comments and suggested resources! I am excited to start integration blogging into my teaching to promote student engagement, motivation, and understanding. I will definitely look into “Green Screen”, Erin, and Nicole- I would love to hear more about your Animal Mystery Skypes! It sounds like a great way to help students with inferring skills.

    I think that a huge part of my job is to build students’ self-esteem and motivation to do their best all the time, just for themselves. I posted the graphic “She thought she could, do she did” because I think that all students are fragile, and can be built up or broken down very easily. Girls especially are sometimes shut out of the world of math, science, and technology because they think they are not/could not be good at it. It is part of our job as teachers to help students understand that they can achieve and do well, even when things get hard.

    I have a person goal in my career to teach my students to question outdated notions about “male” and “female” sports, subjects, hobbies, favorite colors, etc. I love this quote because it sheds light on the power of confidence and motivation, tying in with our readings about collaborative inquiry and student engagement.


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