OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
May 19, 2014

The Evolution of Cooperation
Robert Axelrod, May 19, 2014

From the perspective of game theory, Robert Axelrod asks, "Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without central authority?" Cooperation can develop even among people with competing agendas (as in, for example, a war). "Cooperation can get started, evolve, and prove stable in situations which otherwise appear extraordinarily unpromising." Axelrod suggests (and I disagree) that cooperation requires conditions of reciprocity among people likely to meet again: "The foundation of cooperation is not really trust, but the durability of the relationship." (I disagree because cooperation can occur altruistically, in a community of strangers).

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Towards Better Group Work: Seeing the Difference between Cooperation and Collaboration
Olga Kozar, English Teaching Forum, May 19, 2014

"Cooperation can be achieved if all participants do their assigned parts separately and bring their results to the table; collaboration, in contrast, implies direct interaction among individuals to produce a product and involves negotiations, discussions, and accommodating others’ perspectives." Olga Kozar, English Teaching Forum (2010).  Is collaboration a reasonable goal? Dividing students into groups and telling them to work together is no guarantee that they actually will. Kreijns, Kirschner, and Jochems (2002) also point to "the social-psychological/social dimension of social interaction that is salient in non-task contexts."

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The Construction of Shared Knowledge in Collaborative Problem Solving
Stephanie D. Teasley, Jeremy Roschellel, The Conslruction of Shared Knowledge, May 19, 2014

"Collaboration is a coo rdinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem... Cooperative work is accomplished by the division of labour among participants, as an activity where each person is responsible for a portion of the problem solving." What's important in collaboration is the creation of a shared model. "Our perspective has characterised collaboration as a process of constructing and maintaining a Joint Problem Space." See also, Paul Brna, Models of Collaboration.

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What do you mean by 'collaborative learning'?
Pierre Dillenbourg, May 19, 2014

Pierre Dillenbourg: "In cooperation, partners split the work, solve sub-tasks individually and then assemble the partial results into the final output. In collaboration, partners do the work 'together'." I think this is only partially right; Dillenbourg would define an assembly line as 'cooperative' while to my mind it is a form of collaboration, because of the shared intent to produce a specific product. Dillenbourg P. (1999) In P. Dillenbourg (Ed) Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. (pp.1-19). Oxford: Elsevier. See also Dillenbourg, et.al. (1996) The evolution of research on collaborative learning - "collaboration as the non-distribution of labour.". 

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Collaboration vs Cooperation
@shiftctrlesc, Cloudhead, May 19, 2014

Here's a really nice clear account of the distinction between these two important terms. "We often use these words interchangeably, but they represent fundamentally different ways of contributing to a group and each comes with its own dynamics and power structures that shape groups in different ways." Don't miss this!

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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