Collaborative learning is heavily rooted in Vygotsky’s views that there exists an inherent social nature of learning which is shown through his theory of zone of proximal development. Often, collaborative learning is usedas an umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Thus, collaborative learning is commonly illustrated when groups of students work together to search for understanding, meaning, or solutions or to create an artifact or product of their learning. Further, collaborative learning redefines traditionalstudent-teacher relationship in the classroom which results in controversy over whether this paradigm is more beneficial than harmful. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, joint problem solving, debates, study teams,and other activities. The approach is closely related to cooperative learning.
What are cooperative andcollaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project. A group of students discussing a lecture or students from different schools working together over the Internet on a shared assignment are both examples of collaborative learning.
Cooperative learning, which will be the primaryfocus of this workshop, is a specific kind of collaborative learning. In cooperative learning, students work together in small groups on a structured activity. They are individually accountable for their work, and the work of the group as a whole is also assessed. Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team.
In small groups, students can share strengths and also develop theirweaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.
In order to create an environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary. First, students need to feel safe, but alsochallenged. Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute. Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined. The cooperative and collaborative learning techniques presented here should help make this possible for teachers.
Also, in cooperative learning small groups provide a place where:
* learners actively participate;
* teachers become learners at times,and learners sometimes teach;
* respect is given to every member;
* projects and questions interest and challenge students;
* diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are valued;
* students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise;
* members draw upon their past experience and knowledge;
* goals are clearly identified and used as a guide;