Why should children have to collaborate?

Collaboration, in more and more of what I read online, is a pre-requisite of good “21st century” learning environments. I can see why it is important, but as with a lot of online discussions, it seems needlessly binary. One has the sense you either subscribe to the “we should all be collaborating model” or you are a reactionary dolt who just doesn’t get it. I’m not sure it’s a simple a good as people make out, though.

There are various points I’m unclear about. The first is political. As this report comments,

“Working in groups can have considerable drawbacks for learning as well. Many students do not know how to work together and must have good models and instruction for the process. The status of individuals within a group can make some students consistent leaders and others always followers. The person whose ideas are respected in general may not be the person with the best understanding of the problem to be solved. Collaborative learning must also be organized in ways that tap diversity as a positive resource and counteract classroom stereotypes”

In other words, yes collaboration is important but it needs some quite serious social training and/or engineering for children to get the most out of it. How often does this actually happen in class compared to the herd them into groups and see how they get on approach?

The second is character. Not everyone is an extrovert. Yes group work is useful: if nothing else it adds energy to classrooms and gets children engaged. Any introvert, though, who has sat through a seminar with an extrovert full of their own ideas knows how painful group work can be. Susan Cain puts it far better than I can.

It would be a great shame if the quiet of contemplation lost out to the noise of collaboration in schools.

The third is interest. Collaboration seems to trump co-operation. These are different things, though, and I am not sure why one is better than the other. The group approach implicit in collaboration helps foster a group ethos and all the good that comes from shared goals. However, if it is important to personalise learning, then perhaps we need to be careful when we insist on collaboration that the child’s own goals are not too frequently sacrificed to those of the team? Personalisation and collaboration are not wonderfully easy bedfellows.


Life in a day

Here was the initial idea.

Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create a user-generated feature film shot in a single day. On July 24, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into a feature film, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

And here is the trailer.

Looks rather beautiful.


Co-operation vs collaboration

Good, clear stuff from Paco Gonzalez

Cooperation vs Collaboration

We often use these words interchangeably, but they represent fundamentally different ways of contributing to a group and each comes with its own dynamics and power structures that shape groups in different ways …

When collaborating, people work together (co-labor) on a single shared goal.
Like an orchestra which follows a script everyone has agreed upon and each musician plays their part not for its own sake but to help make something bigger.

When cooperating, people perform together (co-operate) while working on selfish yet common goals.
The logic here is “If you help me I’ll help you” and it allows for the spontaneous kind of participation that fuels peer-to-peer systems and distributed networks. If an orchestra is the sound of collaboration, then a drum circle is the sound of cooperation.

Useful to bear in mind when getting students to do group work. I wonder how beneficial it would be to make this distinction explicit to students? Probably just enough to give them a goal to collaborate towards on the one hand, and co-operative settings (like knowledge markets) on the other.


Present.ly – The Constant Awareness Communication Tool – Private Microblogging for your Business

Present.ly is an award-winning microblogging platform that keeps your company connected in real-time. Increase your team's productivity by posting updates, sharing files, exchanging ideas, and more.

Source: here

EtherPad: Realtime Collaborative Text Editing

EtherPad is the only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time.

When multiple people edit the same document simultaneously, any changes are instantly reflected on everyone's screen. The result is a new and productive way to collaborate on text documents, useful for meeting notes, drafting sessions, education, team programming, and more.

Source: here

McKinsey: What Matters: Using technology to improve workforce collaboration

Taking a systematic view, however, helps bring some of the key issues into focus. Our research suggests that improvements depend upon getting a better fix on who actually is doing the collaborating within companies, as well as understanding the details of how that interactive work is done. Just as important is deciding how to support interactions with technology—in particular, Web 2.0 tools such as social networks, wikis, and video. There is potential for sizeable gains from even modest improvements. Our survey research shows that at least 20 percent and as much as 50 percent of collaborative activity results in wasted effort. And the sources of this waste—including poorly planned meetings, unproductive travel time, and the rising tide of redundant e-mail communications, just to name a few—are many and growing in knowledge-intense industries.

Source: here

Charter For Compassion :: home

The Charter for Compassion will be unveiled to the world on November 12, 2009.

In late 2008, people of all nations, all faiths, all backgrounds, submitted their words to the Charter. In early 2009, the Council of Conscience sorted through and discussed the world's contributions to determine the final version of the Charter. The Charter is now complete.

The Charter does NOT assume:

* all religions are the same
* compassion is the only thing that matters in religion
* religious people have a monopoly on compassion

The Charter DOES affirm that:

* compassion is celebrated in all major religious, spiritual and ethical traditions
* the Golden Rule is our prime duty and cannot be limited to our own political, religious or ethnic group
* therefore, in our divided world, compassion can build common ground

Source: here

RSS never blocks you or goes down: why social networks need to be decentralized – O’Reilly Radar

Industry analysts have been questioning for years whether Twitter is financially viable. Well, maybe it isn't–maybe this particular kind of Internet platform is not destined to be a business. Responsibility for the platform can be distributed among millions of sites and developers, while business opportunities can be built on top of the platform as services in analytics, publicity, and so forth.

Like Google, Twitter and the other leading commercial Internet sites have made tremendous contributions to the functionality of the Internet and have earned both their popularity and (where it exists) their revenue. But the end-to-end principle and the reliability of distributed processing must have their day again, whenever some use of the Internet becomes too important to leave up to any single entity.

Source: here

Brainstorm, but carefully and only after individual thought

Psychologists have long known that the practice of 'brainstorming' is a sure road to fewer new ideas and less innovation than that produced when we work individually. In groups we loaf, feel anxious and our own ideas are soon forgotten while we listen to others.

It turns out that groups are better at evaluating ideas than they are at their generation. Despite its longevity, brainstorming is best avoided for its original purpose.

Source: here