Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Collaborative learning is a teaching method in which students learn together while exploring a significant question or completing a significant project.  Dillenbourg      (1999) describes collaborative learning as a “situation in which particular forms of interaction among      people    are   expected   to   occur,   which    would     trigger   learning   mechanisms”. Collaborative learning (usually called cooperative learning at the elementary and secondary school levels) is a well-established group work method that provides a useful alternative to teacher-fronted classes. Its various techniques follow a certain number of set rules. Instructors who use the method believe that learning is essentially a social process, that their role is not simply to impart their own knowledge to their students, but that the acquisition of knowledge comes mostly through discussion and negotiation. The instructor's role is that of a facilitator, organizer, and occasionally of a resource person. The method also implies a belief in the democratic process: all team members are equal in their pursuit of a common goal and their contributions are all equally valuable.
The benefit of Collaborative Learning
o    Develops higher level thinking skills
o    Promotes student-faculty interaction and familiarity
o    Increases student retention and builds self esteem in students
o    Creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning
o    Uses a team approach to problem solving while maintaining individual accountability
o    Encourages diversity understanding and encourages student responsibility for learning
o    Stimulates critical thinking and helps students clarify ideas through discussion and debate
o    Enhances self management skills
o    Fits in well with the constructivist approach
o    Students develop responsibility for each other
o    Builds more positive heterogeneous relationships
o    Encourages alternate student assessment techniques
o    Fosters and develops interpersonal relationships
o    Modelling problem solving techniques by students' peers
o    Students are taught how to criticize ideas, not people
o    Sets high expectations for students and teachers
o    Students stay on task more and are less disruptive
o    Promotes innovation in teaching and classroom techniques
o    Classroom anxiety is significantly reduced
o    Test anxiety is significantly reduced

Collaborative Learning and ICT
   The development        of  learning    with   ICT   has   evolved    from    software supporting     students’ individual learning based on mechanical drills to more advanced micro-worlds, cognitive tools    and   learning    environments.   Especially    the   advantages     of  ICT    for  supporting students’   collaborative   learning   have   broken   through;   different   ICT   solutions   provide tools    for  collaboration     both   in  the  classroom     setting   and   on   distance    courses.   Since the end of 1960s, the ways to use ICT for supporting learning have changed along with the evolving of theories   of   learning   and   developing   technologies.   Development     has   advanced   from software supporting students’ individual learning based on mechanical drills to more developed   cognitive   tools     and   collaborative   learning   environments.   ICT   in   teaching   has   manifested   in   various   forms   from traditional computer   labs   and   presentation   technologies   to   online   learning   environments,   social  software      and    personal     learning    environments.       Also,    the   development       of   mobile technologies       has   provided     new    flexible   ways    to   use   ICT   for  supporting      learning . The advantages of ICT have especially been noted in regard of supporting   students’   collaborative   learning   activities.  Different   ICT solutions   provide tools   for   supporting collaborative   learning   in   face-to- face    teaching    situations , and   within    distance learning .  It   has   even   been   proposed   that   ICT   will   transform schools into   knowledge   building . Collaborative learning with ICT without limiting  the technologies and software used for supporting collaboration.
The   development        of   ICT   in   education   indicates   a   connection   between collaborative learning  and  ICT.  The assumption   is   that   integration   of   ICT   into   teaching   demands   teaching   and   learning methods based on constructivism and collaboration. The same   requirement   also   shows   in   online   learning   (Harasim,   2000).   According   to   SyhJong     (2006),   web-based      learning     environments       are   based    on   constructivist     and collaborative approaches to learning, for example the Moodle learning environment is designed      to “create  online  courses  with  a  focus  on  interaction  and  collaborative construction  of  contents”  (Wikipedia,  2010).  The  link  between  the  use  of  ICT  in education and collaborative learning practices has created expectations of that the use of ICT will eventually change teaching practices in schools. Dillenbourg      (1999) describes collaborative learning as a “situation in which particular forms of interaction among      people    are   expected   to   occur,   which    would     trigger   learning   mechanisms”.  
My Opinion:
The connection between collaborative learning and ICT is via  ICT-tools - such as computer supported collaborative environments (asynchronous discussion groups) and mindtools (Logo Microworlds® and Lego-Logo®) , the students learn collaboratively exchange and share knowledge. This results in output (processed information) and input (information to be processed). This input- output exchange can be influenced by the ICT-tools. The impact of collaboration in computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments on study performance and the nature and quality of knowledge construction in Collaborative Learning and ICT.  The use of ICT supports the collaborative learning.


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