But I think we can see the very beginnings of a new story beginning to emerge. It's a narrative spread across a number of different disciplines, in which cooperation, collective action and complex interdependencies play a more important role. And the central, and not all-important, role of competition and survival of the fittest shrinks just a little bit to make room. (Rheingold, 2008).
In nature there are many examples of species that when they procreate, they leave their young to fend for themselves (i.e. snakes and turtles). However, humans do not; we have what is known as the family unit. In my classroom, my students readily rely on me as their instructor and one another to complete their tasks. One of the first questions out of their mouths after I give instructions is "Can we work together?" I do believe that most humans have an intrinsic desire to interact and work with others.
The constructivist theory is centered around authentic instruction or realistic learning that challenges learners to reason and think critically. Collaboration can help ease the challenge of authentic instruction as technology can help facilitate collaboration. Collaborative learning through social negotiation, can help learners with retention, understanding and use (Driscoll, 2005). Web-based collaboration can provide problem scaffolding as learners have access to knowledge experts and online support. "In this way, students can identify learning goals, conduct investigations, keep track of their progress, think about their ideas and those of others, and communicate to others within and outside the immediate learning community" (Driscoll, 2005, p. 404).
Huang-Yao Hong conducted an 18 week study in which two fifth grade science classes participated in online collaboration. Hong desire to see the effect of knowledge building pedagogy and technology on these students' views of collaboration. The study found that students were able to gradually work together beyond group collaboration and "that knowledge building pedagogy, as compared with conventional instruction, is more likely to help students develop a more idea-centered view of collaboration"(Hong, 2011, p. 256)
Janelle Turk conducted an action research study when she desired to promote collegial collaboration among the students at her middle school and the special education students. The study had two specific goals: 1) " involve the art club and life skills students in a collaborative and inclusive project at FMS" (Turk, 2012, p. 51); and 2) " create change in both the physical appearance of the life skills room and social change among the participants" (Turk, 2012, p. 51). It was found that the use of authentic instruction, collaboration, and inclusion provided a life-changing experience for all involved.
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Huang-Yao, H. (2011). Beyond group collaboration: Facilitating an Idea-centered view of collaboration through knowledge building in a science class of fifth-graders. Asia-Pacific education researcher, 20(2), 246-260.
Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from
Turk, J. (2012). Collaboration, inclusion, and empowerment: A life skills mural. Art education, 65(6), 50-53.