Module 10 – Collaboration using Technology

Collet, Hine & du Plessis (2015) cite a number of authors (Stasz, 2001: Harvey, 2003): Casner-Lotto & Barrington, 2006: Moreland, 2007: Finch, Hamilton, Baldwin & Zehner, 2013; Skills Australia (SA), 2011; NA, 2010; Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 2011, Whitefoot & Olson, 2012) to make the point that employers in knowledge-based economies demand a broad range of skills including the application of interpersonal and intrapersonal behaviours to support the innovation required to maintain competitiveness. Chai, Lim, So & Cheah (2011) cite Bereiter & Scardamalia (2006) and Partnership for 21st Century Skills to make a similar point about the soft skills involved in problem solving and knowledge creation skills. Chai et al. (2011) cite Hong and Sullivan (2009) to make the connection between collaborative learning and cultivating these skills and cite Jonassen, Howland, Marra & Crismond (2008) to make the point that technology is well recognised in supporting these knowledge creation processes. I often reflect on the potential impact that learning collaborative learning and technology skills at school would have had on my former career in financial services and am therefore motivated to make collaborative learning and technology central components of my pedagogy.

Roschelle & Teasley (1995 as cited in Laurillard, 2005) distinguish between cooperation and collaboration. They define cooperation in terms of the distribution of tasks and collaboration in terms of iterative dialogue and reciprocity. Chai et al. (2011) cite Chai & Tan (2010) who characterise collaboration as social interaction targeting deeper knowledge and cite Summers, Beritvas,  Svinicki & Gorin (2005) who view cooperative learning as structured collaborative learning. Chai et al. (2011) also cite several authors (Koschman, 2002; Zhang, Scarmadalia, Reeve & Messina, 2009; Hong, 2010) to note that it is widely accepted among educators that cooperative learning focuses on how individuals learn within groups and collaborative learning examines group learning and cognition. Chai et al. (2011) reference Dillenbough (2009) and Summers at al. (2005) to propose that cooperative learning be viewed as the beginning of collaborative learning and that structure can be removed to give students greater agency as they become increasingly experienced.

Laurillard (2005) and Chai et al. (2011) offer differing perspectives on the implementation of collaborative learning. Laurillard focuses on essential learning processes and views collaborative learning as a combination of constructionism and social learning, also sometimes referred to as social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985, both cited in Laurillard, 2005). She proposes the Conversational Framework for collaborative learning. The Conversational Framework incorporates the pedagogical approaches that support learning with the teacher positioned to define concepts and the learning environment and the learners engaging in a series of actions including questioning, sharing, adapting, revising and reflecting. Laurillard’s Conversational Framework can be used to integrate technology by considering how the actions modeled can be matched with technology affordances.

Chai et al. (2011) also cite Vygotsky’s (1978) socio-cultural theory as providing impetus for collaborative learning and cite Scarmadalia’s (2002) work in Knowledge Building and Knowledge Forum as the basis of 12 knowledge building principles to guide the implementation of collaborative learning. The first principle is described as enculturating students into collaborative learning. In this respect real ideas and authentic problems are proposed to trigger questions. In my experience adolescents with limited exposure to cooperative and collaborative learning require significant guidance to enculturate collaborative learning. The second and third principles are defined as improvable ideas and idea diversity. Reflecting again on my experience as a science teacher, these principles help students move beyond the view of knowledge as complete answers mediated by an expert teacher. The other principles are characterised as a combination of communal undertakings to build higher order thinking skills and epistemic agency referring to how students must assume responsibility for the class’s knowledge advancement and the advancement of individual understanding. Chai et al. (2011) also link the 12 knowledge building principles with technology affordances to assist with technology integration: possibilities for action, referential capabilities, mobility of digital inscriptions and promotion of patterns of participation to help guide technology integration.

Chai et al. (2011) summarise the actions of teachers to help students conduct collaborative learning: providing structures for collaboration among students, providing structures for effective group processes and assessing individual and group learning. Roblyer and Doering (2014) and Diacopoulos (2015) itemise technology resources that can be considered in respect to these actions: providing structures for collaborative learning: virtual learning environments including Edmodo and Google Classroom, Wikis, Google Docs, chatrooms, file and video sharing communities including Pinterest, social networking sites and avatar spaces; providing structures for group processes: blogs, Google Docs, Microsoft Works, Prezi, drawing programs, videos, podcasts, image editing tools, online survey tools, graphics tools, statistical packages and concept- and mind-mapping tools; and computerised testing systems and student information systems including Edmodo for assessment.


Chai, C.-S., Lim, W.-Y., So, H.-J., & Cheah, H.-M. (2011). Advancing Collaborative Learning with ICT: Conception, Cases and Design. Ministry of Education, Singapore. Retrieved December 31st, 2016 from

Collet, C., Hine, D., & du Plessis, K. (2015). Employability skills: perspectives from a knowledge-intensive industry. Education + Training, Vol. 57(5), 532-559. Retrieved January 19th, 2017 from CSU Library

Diacopoulos, M. (2015). Untangling Web 2.0 Tools, the NCSS Guidelines for Effective Use of Technology, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. The Social Studies, Vol. 106(4), 139-148. Retrieved January 20th, 2017 from CSU Library.

Killen, R. (2009). Effective Teaching Strategies: Lessons from research and practice,  (5th ed.), South Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Learning.

Laurillard, D. (2005). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Vol. 4(1), 5-20.  Retrieved January 2nd, 2017 from CSU Library.

Roblyer, M. & Doering, A.H. (2014). Integrating education technology into teaching: Sixth Edition. Essex, UK: Pearson Education.


Author: simonromijn

Science Teacher

2 thoughts on “Module 10 – Collaboration using Technology”

  1. Hi Simon,
    My interpretation of the Chai et al. (2011) and Laurillard (2005) articles was different to what you have presented here. I found the distinction between collaborative learning and cooperative learning actually helped to clarify the definition of collaborative learning for me. Chai et al. (p.7) describe cooperative learning as a group activity under the firm control of the teacher and I believe that the Laurillard article states the same but the language is ambiguous to the extent that there can be some confusion about whether she is describing collaboration or cooperation (p.10).

    By this measure, activities that I have thought of as collaborative would be better described as cooperative. For example, I designed a group activity where students represented circuit components and had to arrange themselves into circuits in parallel and in series in the schoolyard. As they were working together I would have described this previously as collaborative; they had to cooperate to achieve the end result but the design and monitoring of the exercise was firmly in my control, and there were right and wrong answers. Cooperation is rightly argued by Chai et al to be subsumed within collaboration and this is mirrored in dictionary definitions (Collaborative, 2017). Some of the features that would set collaborative learning apart, according to Chai et al. would be the deeper learning that accompanies active construction of knowledge, and student “interaction with content knowledge as practitioners in the field” (p. 19). A simple example might be the class debate where students work together in teams to analyse, research and adopt opposing “expert” views.

    Collaborative. (2017). In The Free Dictionary online. Retrieved from



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