In a recent post my colleague Barbara Stefanics highlighted collaborative learning in a studying-for-exams situation. About the same time, I read Stephen Down’s presentation on Cooperation and Collaboration, which lead me to explore the similarities and differences of cooperation and collaboration in a classroom setting, and how technology might support the two.
The terms cooperation and collaboration are often used rather loosely in the classroom to describe some sort of group work. Downes summarises the terms this way his presentation:
- When collaborating, people work together (co-labor) on a single shared goal; The idea of shared goals, shared values is like an orchestra which follows a script everyone has agreed upon, or like a team playing a game against a common opponent.
- When cooperating, people perform together (co-operate) while working on selfish yet common goals; The idea of separate goals interacting for mutual gain is like a marketplace with competing but cooperating vendors, or like the internet.
Arthur T. Himmelman’s gives these descriptions:
- COOPERATING is defined as exchanging information, altering activities, and sharing resources for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose.
- COLLABORATING is defined as exchanging information, altering activities, sharing resources, and enhancing the capacity of another for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose.
Interestingly, “cooperation” is not emphasised in the IB Approaches to Learning, where “collaboration” has a category almost to itself (Social Skills) and in Approaches to Teaching it appears as “collaborative planning across the DP”.
Click on this link to watch a video of a Language A Literature lesson using collaboration, from the new IB Approaches to Teaching and Learning (BETA) site:
Teachers and students need to be clear in their mind whether it is collaborative or cooperative group work they are involved in, and how their work will be assessed. Investigate the links below for information about the hundreds of online tools, software products, and social media built to support and enhance collaborative and cooperative teaching, learning, and planning.
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli80084.pdf Assessment of Collaborative Learning Outcomes
http://www.galileo.org/tips/rubrics/t-c_rubric.pdf Guide to Assessing Teamwork and Collaboration