| site map | contact |
| home | workshops | courses | libraries | about |
Using Resources
  Prepare the Way
  What is Collaboration?
  Collaboration Tips
  Cooperative Cards
  Why Collaborate?
  Practice Safety
  Communication Tips
  Kinds of Collaboration
  Join a Project
  Design Your Own
  Develop an Idea
  Information Exchange
  Forsee Problems
  Develop Your Own

Collaborative Projects

Why Collaborate?
previous page next page


Redesigning your classroom curriculum so that it includes collaborative project based learning activities requires additional time and effort on your part. Your daily teaching time is already crowded with demands from the local and state administration as well as the community, so an important question that must be answered is what educational merit do these activities have and why should we take valuable time to incorporate these activities into our classroom curriculum.

Follow these 5 steps which will help you define the educational merit for including collaborative learning with your curriculum:

1. Download this activity sheet

Download this activity sheet to record your answers as you explore why collaboration has educational merit for student learning.

Adobe Acrobat Reader Microsoft Word

download PDF:
Why Collaborate?

You must have this installed before you can download and read this file.

download Word document:

Why Collaborate?

2. Will this activity enhance my students' learning?

In Dr. Judi Harris's book Virtual Architecture (Harris, p. 9), she makes two statements that you should consider before you redesign your curriculum to include Internet activities:

      1. Will this use of the Internet enable students to do something they couldn't do before? (Harris, p. 9)
      2. Will this use of the Internet enable students to do something they could do before, but better? (Harris, p. 9)
      3. Will this use of the Internet help me meet my teaching goals and objectives for student learning?

You should be able to answer all of these questions affirmatively before you begin redesigning your curriculum.

3. How are educational practices changing?

Stakeholders in education are pushing for change in our schools so that our students can meet the new demands for today and in the future. In the article Positive Trends in Learning written by Dee Dickinson, she states that:

"Educational systems are changing from outmoded industrial models to ones that are more appropriate for our time."

Discuss what is meant by this statement then work collaboratively to fill out this table:

Industrial Model Today's Model
individual learning  
passive learning by students  
teachers are managers of learning  
bell curve for success:
20% leaders; 30% professionals;
30% functional workforce;
20% non-functional

4. How does collaborative learning fit into this new model?

Many studies are being conducted that define the best practices for learning in this digital information age. One principle that educators are using to empower student learning is with collaboration. Studies have shown that "cooperative learning activities tap the social power of learning better than competitive and individualistic approaches." (Zemelman, p. 8)

"When we think of the social side of learning, we most readily envision group discussions, kids listening to one another's work, carrying out projects and writing letters and stories for one another. Collaborative learning goes on to promote children's learning with one another. Even in the workplace, we're recognizing how much collaboration actually goes on in American life and how valuable group problem-solving is, compared to perpetual competitiveness and isolation. Collaborative small-group activity has been shown to be an especially effective model for school learning - and solid achievement gains have been documented across the curriculum .... by others." (Zemelman, p. 12)

1. Record one of your most successful learning sessions that engaged your students in a collaborative activity.



2. Share your "best practices" with your group. Record new ideas that you could use with your class.



3. As a group, record what learning attributes were evident that made these activities successful.



5. What is Your Overall Goal for Using Collaborative Learning?

As a group, work cooperatively to define your overall goal for using collaborative learning within your classroom curriculum.


Dickinson, Dee. Positive Trends in Learning:
Meeting the Needs of a Rapidly Changing World. New Horizons. 1991.
http://www.newhorizons.org/trans/positivetrends.html (05 December 2003).
Harris, Judi. Virtual Architecture: Designing and Directing Curriculum-Based
Telecomputing. International Society for Technology in Education. 1998.
Zemelman, Steven. Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning
in American Schools. Heinemann. 1998.
previous page next page