Collaborative Learning

Too Big to Know
The Context

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
David Weinberger, 2011

We used to know how to know. We got our answers from books or experts. We'd nail down the facts and move on. But in the Internet age, knowledge has moved onto networks. There's more knowledge than ever, of course, but it's different. Topics have no boundaries, and nobody agrees on anything. Yet this is the greatest time in history to be a knowledge seeker . . . if you know how. In Too Big to Know, Internet philosopher David Weinberger shows how business, science, education, and the government are learning to use networked knowledge to understand more than ever and to make smarter decisions than they could when they had to rely on mere books and experts. This groundbreaking book shakes the foundations of our concept of knowledge-from the role of facts to the value of books and the authority of experts-providing a compelling vision of the future of knowledge in a connected world. (Book jacket blurb.)

Conference Board Employability
Explore the teamwork skills that the Conference Board of Canada considers essential for employability in the 21st century:

The Response in Education

The overall purpose of these six Cs and their underlying DNA is the well-being of the whole student, and the well-being of society, which essentially consists of higher levels of student achievement and the capacity to apply what one knows. The fundamental purpose of education in an excellent system is to produce in all of its graduates — as close to 100 per cent as possible — the quality of leadership. By that we mean the capacity and commitment to act for one’s own good and for the common good. 

We could call this the “new entrepreneurial spirit”— a spirit characterized by innovation, risk-taking, commitment, and skilled problem solving in the service of a better future. But unlike previous definitions of entrepreneurialism, this one applies both to business and social domains. Innovation in new technologies is one aspect, but so are social innovations that build new communities and create opportunities for a better life. 

Fullan's Six Cs resonate very strongly with the kind of learning that takes place in the library. 

Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada

Leading Learning

Leading Learning Collaboration

The library learning commons plays a key role in cultivating and facilitating collaboration to provide rich experiential learning opportunities. It provides not only a physical space to develop skills and engage learners, but is also a portal to virtual connections, both local and global. It is important to acknowledge the diverse needs and contributions of all players within the school learning commons community, both in terms of resource formats and access to information and collaboration opportunities. Local, regional and global connections and collaborations are a vital part of progressive, future-oriented learning environments.

Together for Learning
Together for Learning: School Libraries and the Emergence of the Learning Commons

Virtual and physical learning partnerships extend collaboration to include all members of a school's community. Technology-enabled learning partnerships foster the mutual exploration of ideas, and lead to innovation and creativity. Both parallel the social ways by which today's studnets are naturally choosing to learn and network. 

These integrated learning opportunities are: 
  • global, connected, and social
  • real world, cross-curricular, and interdisciplinary
  • active, fluid, and flexible
  • complex and resource-rich
  • respectful of all ideas
Careful planning ensures that all partners determine how best to model learning together.

Excerpt from: Dear Teachers: The Learning Commons and the Future of Learning, by D. Loertscher and C. Koechlin (2012). Teacher Librarian: The Journal for School Library Professionals 39(4). 

New Opportunities for Collaborative Learning

The ability to communicate with others brings new opportunities for collaborative learning. Students who discuss issues and share their knowledge with others online are able to learn from each other and participate in the kinds of public debates that are central to lifelong learning and the exercise of democratic citizenship. The technology also makes that collaboration visible, so students can see their own contribution to the group. This enhances their sense of connectedness, which deepens and enriches their learning by making it both more personal and more social. Collaborating with students from different cultural backgrounds helps students develop compassion, understanding, and appreciation for different cultures.

Response of the Learning Commons: The most innovative tools in educational technology today are those that allow for the building of collaborative ideas, projects, writing, and thinking in real time. In the learning commons, these tools predominate since they allow for the development of personal expertise alongside collaborative intelligence. We refer to tools such as a Google Document; a Google Form used as input to a Google Spreadsheet; Google Draw, where students are creating collaborative drawings; Google Presentations, where up to seven students are creating a slide show together. Beyond the Google family is a growing number of collaborative tools for developing mind maps, project work, editing multimedia, and curating sources around ideas. Learners who understand the power of such tools share their expertise to build collective understanding and create new knowledge.