Now I will conquer the second subject of the three, Collaborative learning. We read an article on this subject for our book, the article was O’Donnell, M. & Hmelo-Silve, C. (2013) Introduction: What is collaborative learning? Handbook of collaborative learning. And I found this article hard to read too. It was about cooperative work also, so I had to be really observant so I don’t mix those two up. I want to focus my blog post so, that it shows the deeper information that I have acquired on collaborative learning from those multiple references that I have read and studied for the book that we are writing for this course.
Once again the definition of collaborative learning is: “It is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together.’’ If you remember, I have talked about the effective interactions (explanation, disagreement, mutual regulation) in collaborative learning before, but the three different criteria for those effective collaborative interactions are interactivity, synchronicity and negotiability. These wanted interactions can initiate different cognitive learning mechanisms (knowledge elicitation, internalisation, induction, conflict). I also learned new things about the difference between cooperative work and collaborative work. They differ from each other not only by the difference in division of labour, but also by the level of equality and mutuality of influence. Cooperative learning can have a high level of equality, but a low level of mutuality. But in contrast, collaborative learning can have a high level of equality and mutuality. In cooperative learning, the work is distributed vertically. That means that the task is divided in smaller sub-tasks and the group members work on those smaller sub-tasks individually and assemble those individual outputs together in the end. In collaborative learning the work is divided horizontally between the group members. The horizontal work distribution means that the group works together on the same task. This kind of work distribution can reduce the cognitive load of an individual. From our article, I learned that the five characteristics of effective collaborative learning are: positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, individual accountability, interpersonal and small group skills and group processing.
CSCL (computer supported collaborative learning) studies how collaborative learning can be improved with the help of computers. Remember when I told about how we can create those collaborative situations and increase the probability of those wanted interactions? The different CSCL tools can help to create this environment and a situation in which, those particular effective group interactions are expected to occur for collaborative learning. Computers can also help the group members to verbalize and visualize their thinking and knowledge. Different studies show, that deep learning happens more often in a complex social and technological environments. I learned four different motives for using technology in supporting collaborative learning. 1) It prepares students for the knowledge society of today and it teaches students the skills for collaborative work and knowledge creation. 2) Technology can improve students cognitive performance and boost deep learning. 3) Technology adds flexibility of time and space for groupwork, for example we are using google docs for our book and it helps a lot! 4) Technology can also boost students engagement in work and technology helps to keep track of students groupwork.