aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

The Hidden Danger of Collaborative Learning

Posted by Ellen on August 28, 2009

It’s simple, really: what if the information you’re getting isn’t reliable?

Don’t we teach others this very thing about accessing information, gaining knowledge, from the Internet? That you have to be careful about the source, that you need to be able to evaluate the validity of what you’ve found out there in cyberspace?

What will we do to be sure our collaborative learning spaces aren’t populated by those who think they know more than they do?

I don’t know who Richard Whatley, is but he said it well: “He who is not aware of his ignorance will only be misled by his knowledge. ”

And herein we have an example of the very issue: if I don’t know who Richard Whatley is, should I risk sharing the quote? Am I — ignorantly — passing on something that’s of no value or maybe even harmful?

Isn’t this the danger of collaborative learning? That those who don’t know — who are in fact, in the space because they need to learn something — won’t recognize misinformation?

Haven’t we all seen it at some time or another on forums and in blogs: a great post with some good comments that add to the original thought, then someone’s additional comments that go way off somewhere, maybe including false or misleading information?

I do know who Hippocrates is, and he said: “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance. ”

But don’t we also say that the best blogs are the “opinion blogs”? Are we advancing ignorance by sharing our opinions? Do we risk misleading people by sharing more opinions than science or fact?

How do you propose we manage the collaborative learning environment to provide a place for opinion-sharing? To temper the loud but uninformed voices that could mislead or misinform?

Haven’t you been in one of those team projects where the weakest member pulled everyone down, risking the project? Or how about back in school — those group projects with your schoolmates where you were all going to get the same grade? They either left most of the work to you, or maybe you took it on because you were afraid for your grade?

Why are we so sure that others won’t have similar collaborative learning experiences — some good, some not so good?

What are we doing to ensure our collaborative learning spaces will be good ones?

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