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January 28, 2011

Why Should Students Collaborate?

by peter skillen

Hey all, I am cross posting this here. It is currently posted at the Cooperative Catalyst site where I occasionally write. I felt I needed to post it here as well because the Connectivism course has the rss feed to this site.

Introduction

So I just started taking the Connectivism and Connected Learning course – and I shall struggle to see how it differentiates itself as a ‘learning theory’.  George Siemens is developing this theory along with Stephen Downes. George outlines it here in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

The first analysis I wish to make is how it speaks to the construct of ‘collaboration’ – one of the essential elements of ‘social constructivism’ – and George and Stephen, in no uncertain terms, distinguish connectivism from constructivism. In fact, they, like others, suggest that constructivism is not a learning theory but is rather a philosophy. Two of the principles of ‘connectivism’ are:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

…constructivism is not a learning theory…

Although these are explicitly stated, on quick glance through the course materials, the references I see to collaboration are more ‘quantitative’ in nature – such things as ‘social network analysis‘ and so on.  The nature and quality of the collaboration doesn’t jump out at me at first blush. I may be wrong and will be interested in reading the rest of the articles, videos and presentations.

Let me take us on a somewhat retro look at some of the literature on collaboration in education.

Read the rest here…

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