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What is the difference between collaboration and cooperation? When you recall your own or your student’s group work, has the work been done more cooperatively or collaboratively? Have you been in the situation that your brain can only be triggered or your energy can only be focused on the matters when you are in a collaborative environment, i.e. someone is accompanying you in solving the problem together?

If you say yes to the last question. It is already very good experience with collaborative learning. Before we go with more examples, the difference between collaboration and cooperation shall be clarified. The focus of cooperation is the goal. It is creating productivity independently and then integrating the outcomes together for a common goal. It is an efficient method in many practices. However, in terms of learning, collaboration makes more sense. Collaboration actually focuses on values. Its core is creating productively together in a group and via the group, it stimulates the connections of the networks of brain cells of each individual [1]. The best example or practice of collaboration that everyone has experienced is brainstorming activities. The best performance is only be reached when the entire group is interacting and the chemistry between the members are triggered by collaborative thinking and discussion.

In addition to better stimulating the brain cells and improving productivity, collaborative learning also provides many more benefits. One of them is that it could provide social and emotional security. As pointed out by recent research [2], lacking the collaborative learning experience is one of the main roots of the frustration of learners. This is completely also in line with the creation of an effective collaborative learning community especially with the online tools and techniques [3].

Some online tools and techniques that can facilitate collaborative learning:

  • Online meeting software for discussion and social activities: ZOOM, Google Meet, Skype
  • Collaborative communication and discussion: WhatsApp (group), Massagers (group), Facebook (community page)
  • Collaborative productivity providers for reports and presentation: Google, Visme, Canva
  • Comprehensive collaborative learning platforms: Microsoft teams, Google classrooms, Open classrooms

[1] C.N. Loes et al. (2018). How collaborative learning enhances students’ openness to diversity. The Journal of Higher Education, 89:6, 935-960.
[2] N. Capdeferro and M. Romero. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(2), 26-44.
[3] J.Brindley, L. M. Blaschke, & C. Walti. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).

3. Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning