This article points out the obvious trends in recent years of like-minded people, regardless of their geographic location, seeking out each other over the internet for collaboration and amplification relative to their mutual interests. Thus, we have the birth of the “Collaboration Age,” a new and rapidly accelerating fundamental in learning, brought about by technological advances (whose developmental rapidity is ever increasing) that connect us with unlimited individuals and the unlimited knowledge those individuals possess and are willing to share. Collaboration of course is nothing more than teamwork, consisting of people being purposefully brought together to solve and/or create and in the process hopefully generate additional knowledge. But technology has made a paradigm shift in the logistics involved in setting up the team. The team is now at our finger tips, and should most definitely be at the finger tips of our students. (An attractive bonus outside the team’s immediate focus is that members -- collaborators -- can cross all time zones and be multi-cultured, possibly planting seeds of tolerance and understanding our world so desperately needs.)
The teacher becomes less and less a provider of information and more of a facilitator (“connector”) in the student’s quest for information and learning. How one goes about picking the gems from the trash is perhaps the top consideration. The deluge of information available, much of it dubious at best, must be skillfully pared and filtered for quality, and it is the teacher’s job to guide the student in developing the skills necessary to do this.
Although the author believes the “Collaboration Age” should be instigated into school systems, he seems to fear, perhaps rightfully so, resistance from classroom status quo. Change is frequently difficult for any number of organizations mired in the past, and many schools are likewise so. However, technology is a powerful force, and it is hard to imagine this kind of “collaboration” in learning not rooting itself, if only at a more evolutionary pace (which will still be quick) in institutionalized learning.