Collaborative Learning with Educational Technology

Education systems around the world are starting to acknowledge that preparing students for the future requires helping students to develop good collaboration skills. Educational technology can provide teachers with innovative ways to engage students’ in collaborative learning experiences. Cloud-based services make it easy to share and get students working together. But simply grouping students together and telling them to collaborate is insufficient to facilitate the development of collaboration skills.

Educators need to design learning experiences where collaboration is a crucial element for success so that students perceive that they are dependent on each other to accomplish a task.

This condition has been termed positive interdependence by Johnson and Johnson (1999). They defined positive interdependence as “the perception that we are linked with others in a way so that we cannot succeed unless they do.”

Designing learning activities to include positive interdependence can be challenging. One recent approach that applies educational technology is to use so-called asymmetric collaborative simulations (Rannastu et al., 2019). These computer simulations distribute different information or resources among collaborators to create the condition of positive interdependence. Consequently, no individual can successfully complete tasks alone but must share their knowledge, resources and effort with others if they want to successfully complete shared goals.

In the video, an example of using an asymmetric collaborative simulation in the context of middle school science education is demonstrated using the Go-Lab Learning Environment.


To know more

Rannastu, M., Siiman, L. A., Mäeots, M., Pedaste, M., & Leijen, Ä. (in press). Does group size affect students’ inquiry and collaboration in using computer-based asymmetric collaborative simulations? International Conference on Web-Based Learning [download the article].

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1999). Making cooperative learning work. Theory into Practice, 38(2), 67-73.