Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Module 3: Our Connected World - Accomplishing Higher Achievement Through Collaboration

Back in 2005, Howard Rheingold gave a TED Talk focused on the new power of collaboration.  Rheingold will be the first to admit that collaboration is not a new concept; however what is new is the power of technology that lends itself to collaborative efforts today.  One example that Rheingold mentioned is Wikipedia and how thousands of people have volunteered their time and efforts to create a free encyclopedia that in a couple of years has been able to achieve over a million articles that are available in 200 languages.  We now work together under the premise "You prove to me that you are trustworthy and I will cooperate," opposed to the old form of business of "Neither of us can trust each other, so we have to make sub-optimal moves."  Rheingold believes that we have a natural inclination to work collaboratively within groups and cites many different examples beginning in nomadic societies to current times (Rheingold, 2008).

The numerous amounts of people that actively use social networking websites such as FaceBook, Twitter, and Google+, illustrates Rheingold’s belief that people are drawn to interact with each other.  Social networking sites have been evolving from solely being a way for people to connect socially to a way that people connect professionally and academically.  Classrooms are using social networking websites within the classroom as well as to connect with experts out of the classroom.  Sites, such as Edmodo, have been created to give teachers and students a safe, secure way to use academic networking within the classroom.  The variety of ways that students and teachers are able connect through the Internet and the use of mobile devices, enables students and teachers to engage in collaborative efforts that are not restricted by time or location.  Students are able to engage in constructivist activities such as problem-based learning using technology to engage in dialogue, problem solve, research problems and develop solutions.

In a journal article, “School-Wide Implementation of the Elements of Effective Classroom Instruction: Lessons from High-Performing, High Poverty Urban Schools,” one of the research questions that Cooke asks is “What are the organizational structures and systems perceived to contribute to high student performance in high-poverty urban schools with large concentrations of students of color? (Cooke, 2008, p. 93)” Through the different data that was collected six different themes were identified with the first one being collaboration.  The collaborative efforts that were witnessed to contribute towards the schools being effective were faculty working together as well as students working together.  Faculty collaborating together to provide access of the curriculum and support all students was highly valued. Students engaged in activities working together collaboratively to promote higher levels of thinking was also valued.  Not only was collaboration observed school-wide, it was also identified as a key system that ensured high academic success during interviews (Cooke, 2008).

Rheingold has pointed out that we are naturally inclined to work together.  Cooke has proven that it is an effective way of ensuring academic success.  So the question that remains is, why is collaboration not more prevalent nationwide in the K-12 classrooms?

Commented on:
Julie’s - http://juliekaplan.wordpress.com
Cora’s - http://corablades1.blogspot.com


Cooke, S. (2008). School-wide implementation of the elements of effective classroom instruction:
Lessons from high-performing, high-poverty urban schools. University of Southern California). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/89230906?accountid=14872

Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved


  1. I think I know why it isn't incorporated into K-12 education! We live in a very individualistic society; even though we do often work collaboratively, we place great value on depending only on ourselves. Also, many educators are not familiar with working collaboratively, or they may have had bad experiences with it in the past, and so they don't incorporate it in their classrooms.

  2. Hi Laura,

    The research article that you referenced was very informative. I plan to read more of it to see if I can take small chucks and share them with my peers. Have you tried implementing any collaborative methods with your colleagues?

    Great job,

  3. Laura,
    Your post made me think about eastern cultures that approach everything from a collective framework. I wonder if this collaborative approach to learning is part of the reason those countries are so much more educated than their western counterparts? Collaboration really takes learning to another level because students have access to more perspectives, which enriches and deepens the learning experience for all students.
    Thanks for sharing this resource!