So we've been talking a lot in our 21st Century Learning Cohort about collaboration tools. With intention we structured the year-long PLC learning environment around some of the online tools (wikis, blogs, and Skype) and our members are sourcing new effective tools as well (hat tip to Bernadette for Vyew). And, at my "day job" at The Lovett School we are focused on building student competency in collaboration (both face to face and across time and space). We are making progress here with the faculty professional development and some of the student work fascilitated by things like Google Docs, wikis, Ning sites, blogs, and Diigo. It is quite satisfying in both the PLC and school arena when I see the "cool tools" used with good intention (and sometimes used quite well) to support the communities' pedagogy and curricular goals.
But what is the purpose of collaborating? I know many a student (and parent) that moans at the thought of a "group project" for fear of: a) one person getting stuck doing all the work; b) coordinating too many moving parts; and c) a final product that will be of poorer quality than if one just "did it themself." Sure, learning the skill of working with someone else, learning how to "get along" and "form compromise" are well-intended goals. But if "two aren't better than one" than is the collaboration really worth all the effort?
I'm sure I don't have all the answers, but I do believe our ultimate learning goal should be such that the by products and end products of collaboration are greater than when flying solo. And, when it works, there is somewhat of a "beauty" to it, don't you think? These two certainly are convincing: (Thanks, Ted.)