Collaboration is conversation – communication.

#EdChat Radio – Collaboration: Sounds great, but … Making it work in practice 4/9/13

Collaboration podcast

Accessed 13/11/13

  • Collaboration can be tough because it requires “a balance of individual autonomy and group unity”
  • Online groups, webinars, chats, school-based hashtag – but not just online, e.g teacher to teacher; student to teacher; parent to teacher, etc
  • Learning is “inherently social” – has to happen “between and amongst people” – to push your thinking, help you to see things in a different light – collaboration gives you access to multiple points of view.
  • Collaboration amongst teachers is also positive role modeling – showing students that it’s okay to work together.
  • ‘Collaboration’ can be seen as a “dirty word” because it is equated with “cheating” – but this is only the case if the end goal is a right or wrong answer.
  • Woodrow Wilson: “I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow.”  We can borrow a lot more brains through collaboration (and technology) these days – why limit yourself to only what you know?
  • Angela Meyers: “The smartest person in the room is the room.”
  • “If you have a thought, once that thought is shared, it becomes an idea … that’s what an idea is; it’s a shared thought.”
  • Collaboration points to the “importance of conversation” – not to be underestimated: the importance of listening – participate and contribute, but also listen and hear.


This podcast really ‘demystified’ collaboration for me, and brought home that ‘group work’ is collaboration; a conversation with a colleague is collaboration; that collaboration is communication.  Similarly, like always, there are ways to incorporate collaboration on a surface level so that you can tick that box and say you ‘do’ collaboration, but that there are also ways to explore collaboration in a deeper, richer, more meaningful way.  Providing authentic learning contexts for students is possibly a way to do this.

I was particularly struck by the concept of collaboration as ‘cheating’ – this is something I’ve been guilty of considering, but more in the specific context of NCEA and assessment.  How can we assess against standards, but still promote collaboration?  The notion of project-based, inquiry work versus finding the ‘right’ answer is true, but still, how can that be individually assessed?  But then this question in and of itself indicates a bias towards assessing rather than learning – got to keep challenging my own thinking!

Finally, as an English teacher, so much of what I do and promote in the classroom is discussion, I love the quotes by Wilson and Meyers – using all the brains you have for the room to be the smartest.  Sharing thoughts is creating ideas.  Collaboration is conversation – communication.


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