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Brief Overview of Collaborative Learning


What is Collaborative Learning?


It’s active learning where participants work together using a variety of different models to help themselves learn and each other learn.


Big Topic Right Now


Web 2.0 trends



Key Aspects of Web 2.0

  • Social: Everyone as Publisher (read/write web), Harnassing Collective Intelligence, Folksonomy, Social Computing (e.g., Social Networking, Social Bookmarking) (this week)


  • Technical: Web as a Platform, Software as Service, Richer User Experience, Lightweight Computing Models, RSS, Add-ins (next week)


Where do we learn (hint: it's not in the classroom)



Key to Tacit knowledge - Creating and structuring opportunities for people to network, communicate, mentor, and learn from each other can help capture, formalize, and disseminate tacit knowledge, and thus accelerate learning and organizational effectiveness. Often hard to capture tacit knowledge ("how things are really done") in structured, formal learning events.


Collaborative Learning is Highly Effective


From ... http://www.co-operation.org/pages/overviewpaper.html


Based on more than 875 studies (in educational settings) have been conducted during the past 90 years ...


(Cooperative / Collaborative Learning) produces higher achievement and greater productivity than does working alone is so well confirmed by so much research that it stands as one of the strongest principles of social and organizational psychology.


Cooperative learning is indicated whenever learning goals are highly important, mastery and retention are important, a task is complex or conceptual, problem solving is desired, divergent thinking or creativity is desired, quality of performance is expected, and higher-level reasoning strategies and critical thinking are needed.


Workflow and informal learning are important, but often not the focus


Need to look at alternative models for going beyond the basics


Why is this not used more?

  • Fear of loss of control
  • Lack of experiene and confidence
  • Loss of content coverage
  • Loss of assessment / accountability
  • Possible student resistance or apathy
  • Lack of management understanding




Complicated by Lack of Clear Definitions



Topics that I’m trying to avoid having to discuss in any detail, but they overlap what we’ll be discussing:

  • Active learning
  • Informal and workplace learning
  • Computer supported cooperative work (project teams)
  • Knowledge management
  • Communities of Practice and Communities of Interest


Intentional vs. Unexpected



Focus of course is intentional learning. Somewhat disagree with the picture in that the activities shown can be used in ways that are intentional.


See also: eLearning 2.0: Informal Learning, Communities, Bottom-up vs. Top-Down


Cooperative / Collaborative Learning Process

  • Design
  • Teaming
  • Learning task assignment
  • Interaction, Moderation / facilitation
  • Group processing
  • Assessment / accountability


Five Main Elements of Collaborative Learning

  • Positive interdependence — that means the team members have to count on one another to do what they are supposed to do, otherwise everyone loses
  • Individual and group accountability — everyone is held responsible for what they’re supposed to be doing, and they’re also held responsible for the group result
  • Interaction — students learn through interaction with each other during significant portions of the learning experience.
  • Team / Collaboration / Interpersonal skill development - students learn to work together in teams and are helped to understand things like conflict resolution, communication, leadership, time management, and so forth.
  • Group Processing - Regular self-assessment of group functioning. “What are we doing well as a team? What could we be doing better? What are we going to differently next time?”

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