Collaboration can energize learners, promote deeper learning, and make learners more self-reliant—but not without some costs and risks.
Adding discussion groups, chats, and e-mail to courses motivates learners, increases participation in projects, and enlivens discussion. Learners are more willing to participate in online discussions and other activities than in traditional ones . With collaboration, learners "feel more empowered. They are daring and confrontational regarding the expression of ideas" .
Virtual teams can be as effective as face-to-face teams . And, for motivated adult learners, collaborative learning can be more interactive and effective than traditional classroom learning . In one controlled experiment, learners who worked together but who lacked face-to-face contact with the instructor scored 20% higher than those in a traditional classroom course .
Collaboration mechanisms simplify communications. Internet collaboration tools promote full and spontaneous communication among learners, instructors, and others. No one has to look up an address on a smudged, out-of-date address list, find a stamp, decipher someone else's handwriting, or file away copies for future reference. Because communication is easier, participants communicate more often and more freely.
Communication is more complete. Once learners become accustomed to the ease of electronic collaboration, they communicate ...