Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task in which each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. It involves use of small groups so that all students can maximise their learning and that of their peers. It is a process of shared creation: two of more individuals interacting to create a shared understanding of a concept, discipline or area of practice that none had previously possessed or could have come to on their own. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, and other activities.

The idea of collaborative learning is linked to co-operative learning and concepts found in learning organisations, learning communities and communities of professional learning. The Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) recommend under the Professional Teaching Standards that teachers work collegially and in teams to enhance their professional practice. Teachers are also encouraged to collaborate with others to further their own learning.



  • Wikipedia Provides a simple explanation of the term and links to related topics. Please note that although Wikipedia provides a good overview of the topic it should not be cited in academic papers as it is not a refereed site. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Collaborative Learning (pdf) The Centre for Learning and Professional Development at the University of Adelaide provides a detailed discussion of Collaborative Learning including an explanation of what collaborative learning is and what collaborative learning can be used for. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Collaborative Learning Online This online resource discusses the theory of collaborative learning. In addition it provides examples of collaborative learning, guidelines to getting started, resources and tips in using ICT to facilitate collaborative learning methods in the classroom. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Tools for Teaching It is suggested that students working in small groups tend to learn more of what is taught and retain it longer than when the same content is presented in other instructional formats. This web site provides strategies the teacher can employ including ideas for designing and organising work groups as well as assessing the learning work groups. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning - A Brief History of CSCL Research, A Paradigmatic Example of CSCL Research
    A short article discussing why the term CSCL can be problematic. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)


  • Designing Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Activities for Specific Contexts (pdf)
    This paper explores the design of computer supported collaborative learning activities suitable for various domains. The context in focus here is workplace learning, specifically collaborative learning among mobile and distributed colleagues. (Retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Computer Supported Cooperative Work
    An online journal which disseminates innovative research results and provides an interdisciplinary forum for the debate and exchange of ideas concerning theoretical, practical, technical, and social issues in computer supported cooperative work. (Retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • The International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
    An online journal designed to promote a deeper understanding of the nature, theory and practice of the uses of computer-supported collaborative learning. A main focus is on how people learn in the context of collaborative activity and how to design the technological settings for collaboration. (Retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Interpersonal Computing and Technology Journal
    An online journal with articles on computer-mediated communication and the pedagogical issues surrounding the use of computers and technology in educational settings. (Retrieved Jan 19, 2011)

Examples and case studies

  • Collaborative Learning Online
    This online resource discusses the theory of collaborative learning. In addition it provides examples of collaborative learning, guidelines to getting started, resources and tips in using ICT to facilitate collaborative learning methods in the classroom. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Edumall 2.0 Design & Technology (D&T) education
    This website has been developed by the Ministry of Education, Singapore. It contains instructional strategies that will help teachers integrate ICT into their lessons and project work. It also provides exciting ideas on how ICT can be utilised to bring about engaged learning in the classroom. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Knowledge Forum
    Knowledge Forum has been created to support knowledge building pedagogies, practices and research and is considered the first networked system designed for collaborative learning. The site facilitates collaborative knowledge-building strategies, textual and graphical representation of ideas, and reorganization of knowledge artifacts. Any number of individuals and groups can share information, launch collaborative investigations, and build networks of new ideas together. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • LeMill
    This web site serves as a community site and resource of information for practitioners (teachers), researchers and school administrators in the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) field. There are reusable learning content resources, descriptions of teaching and learning methods, and descriptions of teaching and learning tools. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • The Virtual Math Teams (VMT) Project
    The Math Forum and Drexel University in the USA, have formed a centre for the study of collaboration in virtual communities. Its initial project, the Virtual Math Teams Project, explores formation and support of online small groups of students engaging in collaborative math problem solving. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
    Researchers from the College of Computing seek to understand and improve learning environments in classrooms, homes, workplaces, and other virtual and physical communities. This site provides links to a variety of projects, including “collaborative Dynabooks”, computer-supported constructionist learning and computer support for online communities. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Computer-supported collaborative learning in primary, secondary and vocational education
    This project has explored the effectiveness of Computer-supported Collaborative Learning Networks in creating a community of learners who use educational technology to build knowledge together through learning environments. The project studied both teachers and students in five countries (Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, and The Netherlands). (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)
  • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Social Creativity: A Case Study of Fashion Design (pdf)
    This study focuses on an exploration of how the communicative practices in a CSCL environment promote social creativity. (retrieved Jan 19, 2011)