The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

Differences between cooperation and collaboration? Cooperative and collaborative learning have been used in the educational arena interchangeably and with one another for quite some time. Yet, they are very different very different from one another when we begin to dig and research. I found that cooperative learning, which is something I do regularly in my own classroom, is most often accomplished in a small group setting. In this type of teaching arrangement, children work together on the same task, sharing information, and learning and supporting one another. The goal would seem to be to work together and find common solutions to the task at hand. The teacher has much control in a cooperative learning setting, as she designs, assigns, manages, and monitors students. In a cooperative learning setting, the student is only responsible for himself. In a collaborative learning situation, students and teacher work alongside one another. Although the teacher sets the parameters for the project, learning occurs because the teacher and students are working together in creating knowledge. Students become knowledgeable by working alongside the teacher and peers. Thus they use many skills as they talk, come to agreements, critically think, and problem solve together which leads them to construct their own knowledge. Much more student autonomy happens in a collaborative learning environment. Student have more control, and the teacher is a guide.

Can collaboration be taught? I believe that collaboration can be taught, personally. As teachers, we can provide instruction into how to communicate, help, discuss, make decisions, and problem solve. We should also provide guidance in conflict resolution. Teacher should not assign projects requiring collaboration without constant and consistent monitoring and feedback.

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