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Educated By Design Blog

Collaboration Vs. Cooperation


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Collaboration is closely connected to the access of knowledge. My educational experience required me to rely solely on my teacher and an outdated textbook. Collaboration was limited to "working together" to complete a predefined task with a singular outcome. In today's world the entire scope of human knowledge fits in your pocket and the hierarchical control of knowledge erodes daily. No longer is expertise defined by anything more than a desire to share, and a medium to share it in. The challenge now is how to filter, analyze, validate, and make use of mass-information. This is one of the reasons developing collaborative skills is so critical for our students. We sometimes confuse cooperation, working together side by side with collaboration. I asked a group of 4th graders this week what the difference was. One student responded that,

"Cooperation is when we get along, collaboration is when we use our uniqueness to make something great."

Wikipedia, Mobile Technology, and Social Media have shifted how we share, work together, and help one another. These examples are something that simply did not exist while I was growing up. While it is important for young children to develop their individuality and independence, their careers will most likely be highly collaborative experiences with very few essays, and minimal multiple choice exams.