Collaborative Versus Social (Learning)

I’ve often found worthwhile food for thought at the Internet Time Alliance. A recent post by Harold Jarche mentions a distinction between Collaborative Learning and Social Learning. I wasn’t aware of one, so I looked at the definition by the Human Capital Lab:“Collaborative learning is ... based on the idea that knowledge can be created through the interaction and collaboration of individuals. It is not driven by a specific tool, or learning plan, but is driven by the need for information and the accountability that those engaged have to one another.”

This sounded a little shifty. The counterargument— “We collaborate because we have a reason to do so... We learn socially because we are wired to do so” made sense. Then I looked up a couple of other definitions, and I saw: “Collaborative learning ... states that education is ... an opening to diversity and tolerance, perpectivism ... Education becomes ... a dynamic exchange of different learning processes ...” And: “(In) collaborative learning, the learners are responsible for one another’s learning as well as their own.”

An old English proverb comes to mind: “When the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.” More politely, what’s disturbing is that the definitions—upon which there’s a lot of emphasis—could become an excuse for a lot of unconstructive possibilities.

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