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We could list at least three good reasons:

• We need to prepare our students to compete in a new global economy.
• The nature of work is changing.
• We need to prepare our students to be effective 21st Century citizens.

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Replies to This Discussion

I think the first two go together, only the first reason could be restated "We need to prepare our students to function in a new global economy."  Many companies aren't limited to doing business in one country but have partnerships around the world.  My U.S. business friends have projects and weekly conference calls with partners in China, for instance.  The net effect of this is that a project isn't being worked on from 9-5 but literally 24/7, around the world.  Business doesn't sleep but humans do, so the collaborative work has to accommodate time zones.  So, perhaps this fits with your second reason, but I read it in the first reason - not as adversaries but partners.  Great topic.

Collaborative learning potentially offers:

- an opportunity, as an alternative to traditional "solo"/competitive learning

- efficiency, where learning may be easier and faster (or cheaper)

- scale, where thousands can take a class and study together

For a book length treatment of the related question "How is the internet changing the way you think?" see the Edge Annual Question for 2010.

Excepts:

"Those people who do not gain fundamental literacies of attention, crap detection, participation, collaboration, and network awareness are in danger of all the pitfalls critics point out — shallowness, credulity, distraction, alienation, addiction." - Howard Rheingold

"Brains, especially youthful ones, have an omnivorous appetite for information, novelty and social interaction, but it is less obvious why we are so good at unconscious learning. One advantage is that it allows the brain to build up an internal representation of the statistical structure of the world, ..." - Terrence J. Sejnowski

"The Internet brings to us art treasures, ability to simulate complex experiments, mechanisms of learning by trial and error, explanations and lessons from the greatest teachers on earth, special aids for children of special needs, less need to memorize facts and numbers, and numerous other incomparable marvels, not available to previous generations. Anyone involved in teaching, from kindergarten to graduate school, must be aware of the endless opportunities, as well as of the lurking dangers. These changes in learning, when they materialize, may create an entirely different pattern of knowledge, understanding and thinking in the student mind." - Haim Harari

"My thinking has certainly been transformed in alarming ways by a relatively recent information technology, but it's not the Internet. ... I've become incapable of using attention and memory in ways that previous generations took for granted. Yes, I know reading has given me a powerful new source of information. But is it worth the isolation, the damage to dialog and memorization that Socrates foresaw? Studies show, in fact, that I've become involuntarily compelled to read, I literally can't keep myself from decoding letters. Reading has even reshaped my brain, cortical areas that once were devoted to vision and speech have been hijacked by print. Instead of learning through practice and apprenticeship, I've become dependent on lectures and textbooks. And look at the toll of dyslexia and attention disorders and learning disabilities, all signs that our brains were just not designed to deal with such a profoundly unnatural technology." - Alison Gopnik

 

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