Collaborative learning

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Collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together.[1] More specifically, collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetry roles.[2] Put differently, collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. 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.[3] Often, collaborative learning is used as an umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers.[4] 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 traditional student-teacher relationship in the classroom which results in controversy over whether this paradigm is more beneficial than harmful.[5] 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.


Examples of Collaborative Learning

  • Collaborative Networked Learning is a form of collaborative learning for the self-directed adult learner. Youth directed collaboration, another form of self-directed organizing and learning, relies on a novel, more radical concept of youth voice.
  • Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)is a relatively new educational paradigm within collaborative learning which uses technology in a learning environment to help mediate and support group interactions in a collaborative learning context.[2] CSCL systems use technology to control and monitor interactions, to regulate tasks, rules, and roles, and to mediate the acquisition of new knowledge.[2] Most recently, one study showed that using robots in the classroom to promote collaborative learning led to an increase in learning effectiveness of the activity and an increase in the student’s motivation.[2] Researchers and practitioners in several fields, including cognitive sciences, sociology, computer engineering have begun to investigate CSCL, thus, it constitutes a new trans-disciplinary field.
  • Learning Management Systems is a context that gives collaborative learning particular meaning. In this context, collaborative learning refers to a collection of tools which learners can use to assist, or be assisted by others. Such tools include Virtual Classrooms (i.e. geographically distributed classrooms linked by audio-visual network connections), chat, discussion threads, application sharing (e.g. a colleague projects spreadsheet on another colleague’s screen across a network link for the purpose of collaboration), among many others.
  • Collaborative Learning Development Enables developers of learning systems to work as a network. Specifically relevant to e-learning where developers can share and build knowledge into courses in a collaborative environment. Knowledge of a single subject can be pulled together from remote locations using software systems. An example of this could be Content point from Atlantic Link
  • Collaborative Learning in Virtual Worlds Virtual Worlds by their nature provide an excellent opportunity for collaborative learning. At first learning in virtual worlds was restricted to classroom meetings and lectures, similar to their counterparts in real life. Now collaborative learning is evolving as companies starting to take advantage of unique features offered by virtual world spaces - such as ability to record and map the flow of ideas [6], use 3D models and virtual worlds mind mapping tools.

Collaborative Scripts

Collaborative scripts structure collaborative learning by creating roles and mediating interactions while allowing for flexibility in dialogue and activities.[7][8] Collaborative scripts are used in nearly all cases of collaborative learning some of which are more suited for face-to-face collaborative learning—usually, more flexible—and others for computer-supported collaborative learning—typically, more constraining.[7][8]Additionally, there are two broad types of scripts: macro-scripts and micro-scripts. Macro-scripts aim at creating situations within which desired interactions will occur. Micro-scripts emphasize activities of individual learners.[7]

Conceptual Components of Scripts

  • Objectives: Help participants (i.e. learners and teachers) work together to engage in efficient collaboration processes to reach specific objectives.[8]
  • Activities: Identify the activities, and possible constraints, for completing the activities. Activities can include summarizing, questioning, giving an argument, state a claim, etc.[8]
  • Sequencing: Explain the expectations of the participants by specifying which activities should be performed and in what order.[8]
  • Distribute Roles: Clarify the roles individuals will assume throughout the activity to encourage participants to adopt and consider multiple perspectives.[8]
  • Type of Representation: Textual, graphical, or oral representations of explicit instructions are presented to the participants.[8]

See also



  1. Dillenbourg, P. (1999). Collaborative Learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. Advances in Learning and Instruction Series. New York, NY: Elsevier Science, Inc.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mitnik, R., Recabarren, M., Nussbaum, M., & Soto, A. (2009). Collaborative Robotic Instruction: A Graph Teaching Experience. Computers & Education, 53(2), 330-342.
  3. Lee, C.D. and Smagorinsky, P. (Eds.).(2000). Vygotskian perspectives on literacy research: Constructing meaning through collaborative inquiry. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Smith, B. L., & MacGregor, J. T. (1992). “What Is Collaborative Learning?". National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment at Pennsylvania State University
  5. Harding-Smith, T. (1993). Learning together: An introduction to collaborative learning. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers.
  6. Naone, E. 2007. Unreal meetings: Second Life's virtual conference rooms might be more useful if they did not resemble their real-world counterparts. Technology Review, July 11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Dillenbourg, P., & Tchounikine, P. (2007). Flexibility in Macro-Scripts for Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23(1), 1-13.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Kollar, I., Fischer, F., & Hesse, F. (2006). Collaboration Scripts--A Conceptual Analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 18(2), 159-185.
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fr:Apprentissage collaboratif it:Collaborative learning pt:Aprendizagem colaborativa zh:電腦支援協作學習

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