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 cooperative learning and concepts found in learning organisations, learning communities and communities of professional learning. The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) recommends, 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.




  • 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 Mar 8, 2017)

  • 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 Mar 8, 2017)

  • Interpersonal Computing and Technology Journal archives
    An online journal that specialised in articles related to computer-mediated communication and the pedagogical issues surrounding the use of computers and technology in educational settings. (retrieved Mar 8, 2017)

Examples and case studies

  • 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 reorganisation of knowledge artifacts. Any number of individuals and groups can share information, launch collaborative investigations, and build networks of new ideas together. (retrieved Mar 8, 2017)

  • 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 Mar 8, 2017)

  • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Social Creativity: A Case Study of Fashion Design (pdf, 1.5MB)
    This study focuses on an exploration of how the communicative practices in a CSCL environment promote social creativity. (retrieved Mar 8, 2017)