Sunday, October 25, 2009

Collaboration = Good?

I am thinking about collaboration quite a bit lately. There can be such a disconnect between what we ask students to do and what actually happens in the adult world. When do adults work together? Some recent examples I've seen: my husband calls on a potential client with a colleague, writes a rough draft of his analysis alone (but says he needs to make several phone calls along the way). The draft then gets read by everyone else involved and changed (sometimes dramatically). Finally, he meets again with his colleagues to frame an approach.

The teacher of my favorite exercise class told us yesterday that our new routine was one she practiced and learned with two other teachers.

As we write our report cards and prepare for conferences, I meet with the other teachers on my team and we run down the list of students, sharing concerns, examples, etc so that we are all informed. However, we write the drafts of the reports alone, then pass them around for comments and editing.

Life is collaborative, isn't it? Many athletic teams certainly experience this (though not all).

BUT--should writing be collaborative? I'm going to play around with etherpad next week with my students. It looks a bit less cumbersome than creating a whole Google Doc for just a paragraph of shared text. I like the examples I've seen and the ability to have a sidebar conversation during the writing.

At this point though, I'm not sold on writing as a collaborative act. Maybe just every now and then? We'll see.

1 comment:

msstewart said...

Like anything I think there are things to be gained by collaboration and things lost. I find collaboration takes enormous energy for me and time. It's a personality thing. Despite this I teach at a school where collaboration is part of the school's mission (Discovery Innovation Collaboration Excellence), and I think there are great benefits to collaboration many situations. Like technology, I think it's important to ask why we're collaborating. If it's a situation in which collaboration promises to offer greater creativity and innovation because the collaborators approach problems differently then by all means, plough ahead, even though it may cost some time. Asking at what point in the process collaboration should occur is also a question your post raised for me. Too early in the process and groups just muck around without direction. Too late and everyone's individual ideas are so solidified there's little willingness to give and take.

A parting thought- Two heads aren't always better than one. What if one of the heads has lice? :)