What is Collaborative Learning?

“Collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other.” – Wikipedia

On the surface it seems obvious. It’s about “learners” not “learner.

And it’s about that common task.

But why does it work? Why is it powerful?

It’s about energy. Learning, for most people, is work. We avoid change and prefer to do things the old, comfortable way. However collaboration means connecting to other people—an energizing activity. Energy, the excitement of working with others, lets us overcome our resistance to change.

It’s about information. Each team member multiplies the number of shared information resources. Each person brings new connections that build the pooled wealth of the team.

It’s about “synergy.” Maybe it’s an over-used word, but it’s a good concept—that “more than the sum of the separate parts.”


But there’s more.

Collaboration in the EVOLUTION workspace isn’t just about expanding resources. It’s also about meaningful focus.

EVOLUTION is keenly oriented to the Project (capital P.) It serves a learning model anchored in the “common task” noted in the definition above.

The task adds a number of key elements to the learning equation:

It provides focus—a common cause that has meaning for the group at large.

It keeps the work of learning on target, within guidelines the group creates.

It yields investment in a collective outcome and the shared rewards of success.

Learning in the EVOLUTION model is powered by team connection.  But it’s also carefully managed to create successful outcomes. This makes learning both meaningful and enduring.

“Interactions constitute an organization’s social fabric, the lived values and norms of how things are done within the organization. That social fabric in turn either increases or decreases the capacity of individuals to collaborate, to create new things, to facilitate information sharing, and to adapt. There’s a deep connection between these small everyday interactions and an organization’s overall performance.”


— Jane E. Dutton in “Look for Ways to Ignite the Energy Within,” Journal of Staff Development, Vol. 25, No. 3, Summer 2004)

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