What’s in a Name? Recognizing the Distinction between Cooperative and Collaborative Instruction by Charles Igel Walk into a classroom and you are likely to see small groups of students working together. Group learning has become as ubiquitous to modern instruction as rote recitation was during most of the last century. This pedagogical shift makes perfect sense. Classrooms are more diverse than ever, and group-oriented instruction provides a means for addressing both learning and cultural differences while maintaining focus on the curriculum. Despite this prevalence, there is confusion around what constitutes effective group instruction. In general, group-oriented instruction is divided into two categories – cooperative learning and collaborative learning. A cooperative lesson is designed such that group members work toward a shared learning goal (positive interdependence) while being held accountable for their own learning through individual assessments or comprehension checks (individual accountability). Furthermore, cooperative groups receive explicit instruction in how to effectively work together (group processing skills). Collaborative learning, on the other hand, lacks these elements. A collaborative lesson may simply have students work together with thought to neither the goal structure nor mechanisms for individual accountability. Unfortunately, most group-oriented instruction is collaborative, not cooperative. Without these critical elements, group-oriented instruction is often ineffective, plagued by intra-group competition and unequal distribution of labor (and learning!) A number of well-developed instructional methods such as Learning Together, Jigsaw, and Student Teams-Achievement Division meet the level of cooperative learning; for an overview of the basic concepts involved, see this site. Whether you use one of these techniques or design your own, learning to recognize the difference...
What's so different about Literacy 2.0? The "2.0" buzzword has gotten a lot of hype in recent years, and deservedly so. Whatever word we could have used to describe these new tools, the emergence of the term indicated a social, even anthropological, shift in how we use the web.

 Defining what qualifies as "web 2.0" or "literacy 2.0," has become more difficult as the term has become more ubiquitous and trendy. According to Knobel & Wilber (2009), "a Web 2.0 ethos values and promotes three interlocking functions or practices: participation, collaboration, and distribution." In other words, you know a web 2.0 resource if it helps you collaborate with others and share what you have gathered, learned, or created. Examples are wikis (i.e. PBWorks), social bookmarking tools (i.e. Diigo), and sites for users to share pictures and video (such as Flickr and YouTube).

 For educators, the emergence of these tools has led directly to discussions about what skills students need in order to manage and utilize such tools. Termed "Literacy 2.0," many teachers have come to the understanding that past protocols for researching, reading, and writing are woefully outdated in a world where students and adults are not only encouraged, but expected to collaborate and contribute to group projects and where learners must efficiently and effectively sift through vast amounts of information.

 Perhaps this latter point presents the biggest challenge of the shift that has happened in education. When schools as we know them were conceptualized, information was relatively scarce. We went to school because that was...

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