Collaboration is the act of working together for a common goal. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills says that mastering collaboration skills requires the ability to work effectively with diverse teams. It also requires the ability to "be helpful and make necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal."

Time for productive collaboration is a must in today's classrooms.

  • Phillip Schletchy identifies qualities of the work teachers give students that affect engagement. Affiliation, that is, opportunities to work with others, can be a positive influence on student engagement.
  • A study on cooperative learning found that "subjects who worked cooperatively spent more time working on practice exercises and reported greater satisfaction than those who worked individually."
  • "Studies have shown that groups outperform individuals on learning tasks, and further that individuals who work in groups do better on later individuals assignments as well (Barron, 2000b, 2003; O'Donnell & Danserau, 1992)." Powerful Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond, page 19.
  • Having the capacity to collaborate is an important component in project-based learning and an essential personal and professional skill.
  • The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization formed by government, corporations, associations, and individuals, has developed a framework that fuses the 3 Rs with the 4Cs. The 4Cs are:
    • critical thinking and problem solving
    • communication
    • creativity and innovation 
    • collaboration

Working effectively with others is an extremely complex endeavor. Collaboration skills are complicated to learn because they are actually people skills. Learning these skills takes guided practice and quality feedback. Teacher's shouldn't expect their students to work together effectively without explicitly teaching and modeling collaboration skills. These skills include:

  • Active listening
  • Respect
  • Manners
  • Positive Attitude
  • Focused
  • Social Awareness

Simply telling students to work together won't lead to productive collaboration. Teachers need to develop activities and projects where students have reasons to collaborate. We must teach students how to be good group members through modeling, role playing, discussion, and facilitating. Collaboration can be taught and learned by

  • Assigning clear responsibilities
  • Showing students examples
  • Assigning a leader
  • Encouraging self-direction
  • Charting progress
  • Conducting group and self evaluations
  • Designing rubric to measure the process and product

Online tools that can facilitate collaboration include:

Please add a bullet point with an online tool you recommend for collaboration to our Google Doc.

Tricider lets you collect ideas and vote.

Create collaborative checklists. with Flask.

Display a large volume meter on your computer screen (or use Silent Light for iPad)

Create multipage collaborative whiteboards with Stoodle. You can type, draw, and import images.

Create collaborative mind maps with An account is required to share a map with others.

Create a collaborative canvas where others can add colorful sticky notes with Lino. When setting up your own, choose a custom background image and allow guest to post notes.

Teachers can find lessons and find other classes and experts to Skype with. For fun, search Twitter for #mysteryskype.