When we started this topic on collaborative learning, I thought of the two concepts of cooperative and collaborative learning as synonyms. Maybe that depends on some gaps in my knowledge of the English language, or that I haven’t really thought about this before. A quick search on the Internet doesn’t really help in trying to understand the two different concepts either. The definition that we came up with in my PBL group was that cooperation occurs when tasks are divided between the group members and then put together piece by piece whereas collaboration occurs when the group members work together on all the tasks. Defining cooperation and collaboration in this way and thinking about my own experience of group work, I think that it generally has contained a mix of cooperative and collaborative work.

I usually think of time efficiency, so working by dividing tasks has come from that. But I also think that it is important that all parts in a group work go together so I usually want to put time and effort into that. If I should think about situations where I really have experienced collaborative learning, it is not when the group should produce something together, but where the collaborative learning is part of a process where you should produce something individually afterwards. And these experiences have mainly been when I have taken different pedagogical courses :-).

But I also have to admit that I can feel frustrated in
those situations where you are supposed to discuss, and not really get an
outcome from it. It consumes time. Even though I in hindsight can see that these
are situations where I have learnt a lot, it is not always so easy to see that in
the moment. I think that this reasoning puts educators in a tough position. How
should we design our courses so that students really learn collaboratively and
see the point of it? In my PBL group we have discussed this question a lot, and
we have come up with several ideas. But still, I feel that this is a tough
question to solve.

Collaborative learning experiences