The COVID-19 paradox of online collaborative education: when you cannot physically meet, you need more social interactions

Eva Kalmar*, Tom Aarts, Esther Bosman, Camera Ford, Lisa de Kluijver, Josine Beets, Lisette Veldkamp, Pauline Timmers, Diede Besseling, Joris Koopman, Chuntzu Fan, Enya Berrevoets, Melissa Trotsenburg, Loes Maton, Jill van Remundt, Ela Sari, Lee Wen Omar, Emiel Beinema, Robbert Winkel, Maarten van der Sanden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Collaborative learning is a teaching method that brings together students to discuss a topic important for a given course or curriculum and solve a related problem or create a product. By doing this, learners create knowledge together and gain 21st –century skills such as communication, critical thinking, decision making, leadership and conflict management. Universities had to close their campuses and turn their education fully online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a forced step in the evolution of the digitalisation of collaborative teaching. How did TU Delft face this challenge? How did the students experience the online version of collaborative learning? How did distant learning affect their motivation? This article presents four student team projects investigating these questions from the collaborative learning perspective. One of the significant findings of these projects is the lack of socio-emotional interactions during online collaborative work. We present a few guidelines on how to enable these interactions when designing online or blended collaborative education.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere08823
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Collaboration
  • Collaborative learning
  • COVID-19 outbreak
  • Higher education
  • Online and blended education
  • Student experience


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