Defining collaboration

Wikipedia, itself an example of collective intelligence and collaboration in a Web 2.0 world, defines collaboration as “a recursive process where two or more together toward an intersection of common sharing knowledge, learning, and building consensus.”

In a networked world, the “two or more people” may be separated by mere walls or vast oceans. In a school setting, “common goals” may be the pursuit or creation of new knowledge through research or a team project between classrooms.

Levels of collaboration

Information sharing
This is the way that many teachers begin who first start working with other classes in other countries. It is not technically collaboration as there is no new consensus or knowledge building taking place. Students share their understanding about a topic or examples of their work with others in the project without anything further being required.

An example of this, is one of the wiki pages on the 'Comparing Horizons' collaborative project:

Collective knowledge building
At this level, students are working with the information that each of the participating groups have provided to make some new insights or create new knowledge. This requires higher order thinking as they synthesise information they have learned.

Students have collected scientific data on pond life and then shared this data with each other to then collaboratively create written reports about ponds.

Students collect data about dominant traits from collaborative partners and then anaylse this data.

Collective action
At this level, students have often gone through the above stages and are then equipped with the knowledge they need to take action to help create a positive change in their local environment.

An example of this is when students where involved in a project to that led to them raising money for a school in Uganda.