Though collaboration has great potential for education, that potential is often not realized. Often, simple problems get in the way. This section discusses some practical ways to deal with problems that can thwart collaborative activities.

8.11.1. Set realistic expectations for replies

Set realistic expectations for replies from the instructor. After all, some instructors may want to take the weekend off. Some may be 12 time zones away in a country with different political, business, and religious holidays.

This example lets learners know how soon to expect a response to their e-mail messages.

Instructors who will be unavailable for a longer period should arrange for someone else to handle messages while they are away. Or they should set up their e-mail program to automatically respond to incoming messages with a reply like this:

I will be out of the office until 27 January. I will answer your message then.

Tell learners what parts of the discussion are considered critical announcements and how often they are responsible for checking them. Be reasonable. Giving less than 48 hours' notice is seldom sufficient.

8.11.2. Include make-up activities for missed live events

Record live events so that learners who missed the session can read, hear, and see what they missed [116]. Have make-up work for learners who cannot attend the activity. For example: ...

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