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[Xmca-l] Re: Collaboration

The field is rife with different definitions; I choose the set of definitions which suit the overall concept I am developing. Can't do anything about that! But the issue of *conflict* is absolutely essential. Any co-called collaboration in which conflict is either suppressed or organised away is certainly not worthy of the name.

That said, conflict has the potential always to destroy a collaboration, and at the same time can be moderated so successfully that it is positively enjoyable. The archetype of collaboration is marriage, so we all know what this is about. Managing conflict is the most essential element of collaboration, but that includes encouraging it as well as moderating it.

This issue has echoes of the ZPD vs "scaffolding" question.

*Andy Blunden*
On 18/04/2016 10:33 PM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
Hi Andy,

Thanks for your response.  I would like to put aside the issue of computers which I think is extraordinarily complex (are we talking about the Internet, or the Ethernet, or the Web, or Artificial Intelligence or Augmentation?  More and more I am feeling these distinctions are critical).

But your post does refer to issues I am struggling with.  There has been a lot of talk of the difference between cooperation and collaboration at a number of levels.  Right now I think I like Stephen Downes' distinction which is cooperation is engaging in community work for your own needs - so you never really give yourself up to the learning community, while collaboration involves actually creating a community.  Others I think see collaboration as the development of shared meaning while cooperation is simply (shared isn't the right word, right?) action towards a goal.  I think both to a certain degree reflect your thinking.

I am interested in the idea of conflict, which I think would be antithetical to PISA's conception of collaboration, they seem to be looking to cut down on conflict as much as possible.  It also seems to work against a number of uses of collaboration in the field of education.  Does Alfie Kohn talk about collaboration - what would he say about conflict.

So I'm thinking though these just working together visions of collaboration are missing that "something" and conflict, as counter-intuitive as it is to models of collaboration might make sense.  But what do we mean by conflict.

Is it conflict between members of the collaborative group or is it the abilities of the collaborative group to see conflict between their solutions and the realities of the world around them (I know, another loaded phrase).

We also have a tendency to see conflict of adversarial.  If there is one thing I think collaboration is, it is non-adversarial in nature.  So can ideas be in conflict without individuals raising those being adversarial with each other.  What if people are adversarial to each other and yet still work together to accomplish important things, or is this cooperation?  Or is these another concept that hasn't been defined, or perhaps I am not grasping?

The danger with PISA's definition is there is really no mechanism for change.  Should collaboration have a mechanism for change or innovation?

Thoughts running around my head.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2016 9:10 PM
To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Collaboration

"Collaboration" is a big word in my universe, Michael, so I'll offer some observations.

Collaboration as "together working" means specifically working together to a common object (aim). That generally entails working together to change an object-of-labour (/Arbeitsgegenstand/).

There is a lot of discussion about the difference between Collaboration and the etymologically identical Cooperation, much of this is in the "educational debate." As I see it, Collaboration essentially involves both cooperation and conflict. Conflict is also one form or aspect of collaboration, because the parties are working towards two opposite concepts of the same object. "Object" here therefore has a slippery meaning. It can mean the /Arbeitsgegenstand/, the object worked upon, or the Gegenstand, the object aimed for. Both ideas incorporate the possibility of difference.

Collaboration essentially involves the coming together of distinct parties (or subjects). True Collaboration involves a merging of the subjectivities for the course of a single project, but there are "limiting cases" of non-collaborative collaboration. These include an exchange of labour governed by a negotiation of a contract (such as customer-service provider in which the subjects retain their mutual independence throughout) and command-and-obey (in which one subject is subordinated to another).

Cooperation does not imply conflict within the working relationship usually because there is a division of labour; Collaboration on the other hand involves each party taking a critical attitude towards the contribution of the other party. o conflict is an essential ingredient to Collaboration.

Collaboration is a learning process, to the extent that one could argue that learning can *only* be a Collaborative process. So Collaboration means that the object (aim) of the labour changes, because the /concept /of the object changes.
Collaborators learn about the object (worked upon) in the process of working on it, and the object (aim) by realising it.

In education there has been an unfortunate development in which (1) students work independently because they are physically or organisationally distant, (2) Collaboration between the students is then facilitated by the use of computer and communication equipment, (3) Students who are already face-to-face are obliged to introduce a computer between them so that their collaboration, instead of being face-to-face, mediated only by the /Arbeitsgegenstand/, they now find their Collaboration mediated by a computer. That is, "Collaboration" has come to mean the undermining of Collaboration by the use of Collaborative tools to avoid closer collaboration.

And this is the danger. The education bureaucracy has heard a bit about the benefits of Collaboration as a learning process, and that Collaboration requires equipment. So they get the idea that they have to separate students or researchers from one another so that they can collaborate.
Once separated the bureaucacy can provide equipment to allow students to Collaborate notwithstanding their having been separated from one another. And the same goes for
students+teachers, research+industry, management+workers, etc.

Does that help, Michael?

*Andy Blunden*
On 18/04/2016 6:38 AM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
Hello all,

I have a question for anybody who might be willing to respond. How do you define collaboration?  What spurs this question is that PISA is developing a framework for testing collaboration internationally.  At first I thought I was getting punked, but it really is happening, the framework is at the link below.   The idea of collaboration is being used more and more - especially in contexts that involve computer/web based research, but it often times seems to be a placeholder.  The word only came into vogue late nineteenth century I think -  col meaning together and labore meaning to labor.  A lot of people who discuss collaboration invoke Vygotsky (e.g. the PISA framework) or sometimes Dewey (Although I am kind of sure Dewey never actually used the word collaboration, but I  might be wrong).  Anyway the PISA document defines collaboration but in a very simplistic way I think so that it is not wrong but not helpful.  I know there was some research around language (being able to
   create shared meanings).  But so far to me it seems to miss the point, but I can't think what I would replace it with.  I guess you could call this a request for comments.  I find PISA creating a test for collaboration kind of dangerous.