Collaboration in education

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  • The concepts of co-operative and collaborative learning are explored.
  • Mentoring (including peer mentoring) as a mechanism for learning is introduced.
  • Open Education Practices are outlined as an example of an educational model based on collaboration.

Collaboration in learning assumes a two-way interaction between learners and teachers, and interaction amongst learners. According to Dooley (2008), learners and teachers construct knowledge together and teach each other as they strive towards a common goal. Although collaborative learning is described by different names such as cooperative learning, peer learning, peer teaching, collective learning, and learning communities, each form of learning has differences. For example, cooperative learning is teacher led whereas collaborative learning is led by the members of the group. One commonality defining these different terms for learning is the necessity for group work of some kind. The teacher becomes more like a mentor to the students, guiding their learning. In a well functioning group, students with more knowledge than others may engage in peer mentoring.

Case studies with Emilia and Brett are used to illustrate these concepts. Further on in this section, Open Education Practices are outlined. These rely on the concept of sharing and collaboration when accessing and creating resources.


Case Study: Emilia

Emilia has decided that her Health Policy course needs to include opportunities for co-operative and collaborative learning. She sits down with the students to discuss some topics that may be of interest for them to explore as projects.

She also works out, in consultation with the class, how the group process will work, and how they will record their progress and receive feedback on their work. She assists each group to set their goals and activities for the inquiry as well as the assessments, and discusses the resources they will need and how they will access them.

She runs a session on group work, and during this session makes it clear to the students that they will need to produce evidence of individual work and how they contributed to the group outcome.


Case Study: Brett

Brett has approached colleagues to assist him in a project to develop e-books for the carpentry course. He discusses his intention to design the resources so they can be accessed them on mobile devices. He seeks the help of an expert in the field to mentor him in leading the project and to guide him in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the resources in consultation with students and other stakeholders.

Brett wants to know more about how mentoring could help him and finds a resource on the Ako Aotearoa website to assist: Mentoring Guidelines and Mentor Training Resource.