Saturday, September 27, 2008

CCK08: "collaboration" versus "cooperation"

There was an interesting question posed at 26.23: Does learning as an individual task mean that when we learn together that we are not doing a shared process?

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At 28.20 Stephen Downes distinguishes between "collaborate" and "cooperate" in that the former shares more group properties while the latter shares more network properties (see video). The outer ends of the group/network continuum, I believe, are extreme occurrences that don´t necessarily lend themselves well to most school environments that utilize a curriculum as a means for establishing intended desired results. On the one hand, groups include a closed learning environment that contain hierarchies (i.e., teacher-student, student-student, etc.) and tend to hamper the way information is presented presumably in order to assure that "good" content is being provided. On the other hand, networks originate completely from a personal choice (Dron and Anderson) which is also not practical in today´s school systems. Perhaps the "answer" is somewhere in between.

Establishing classrooms as a learning community means recognizing that individual and group goals are taken into consideration. The taught curriculum includes input and individual choice on the part of the learner so that personal learning networks may be designed, implemented, and reflected upon. The educator takes on multiple roles (e.g., didactic instructor, facilitate, and coach) depending on the circumstances, and assists the learner as the process of achieving individual and group goals unfolds. Yes, at times, a didactic role is required because some students respond to this type of instruction given certain circumstances. It´s not about constantly "feeding" information to the learner or expecting that the learner automatically consider the information valuable, but more about being one of many informants that learners may choose from in order to create their own understanding or networked knowledge. An important role of the educator is to assist the learner in determining what information is valuable (or not) within the context of a particular learning situation.