“Survival of the Fittest” describes the old human mentality according to Howard Rheingold (2008). As I ponder on this, I question whether or not this is still the current human mentality. Rheingold (2008) believes that over time, the human mentality has evolved to one that has lessened in competiveness to make room for cooperation and collaboration. While I agree that 21st century problems, require collaborative-based 21st century solutions, I still believe that the “destroy competition” mentality overpowers the willingness to cooperate in some cases.
Professional Learning Communities are being established in today’s schools in an effort to increase uniformity and collaboration across the board. However, the fact that there are still teachers who cling to the concept of working in isolation leads me to believe that people do not necessarily have a natural inclination to interact and work in groups. For whatever reasons, there are some people who are naturally inclined to work alone. Even those who prefer collaborative work, tend to evaluate their work load as an individual rather than as a member of a larger community. For example, when my boss sends us emails of a list of task he wants completed, considering how “I” will meet all the deadlines is one of the first things I consider. After further processing the assigned tasks, I may consider how a colleague and I can collaborate to get the task done and make efficient use of our time as a cooperative team. But, my initial thoughts were of the course of actions “I” would take to get the tasks done. This is just an example to further elucidate the natural inclination we have to work in isolation in lieu of collaboration.
As I had previously mentioned, I consider collaboration to be effective since it takes multiple perspectives and varying levels of expertise into account. Collaboration enables people to complete task in a more proficient and time efficient manner. One technological resource that I recently used (for the first time) to engage in collaborative work was Google Docs. For my EDUC 7105 course, the members of my learning community took a constructivist approach (2005) to collaborating as we all provided input in responding to 5 questions about our selected learning theory. Rather than each of us simply selecting a question to answer, we all constructed a cohesive and agreed upon response to all 5 questions. We all played a part in the editing and revising for each question included in the table. Utilizing technology in such a manner definitely breaks down the tendency to work in isolation since the productivity of team work is made prevalent.
To read more about the positive effects that collaboration has on learning, please go to the following website: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v7n1/gokhale.jte-v7n1.html
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from