2.5 The Importance of Peer Connections and Collaborating

In the sections which follow you will learn about Peer Connections and some tools, you can use to connect and collaborate. Before moving on, first, think of the type of collaborator you are and the skills you need to be aware of to make the very most of collaborative learning.

The Ringleader

Big ideas person, discussion starter and collaboration initiator, lots of creative energy

The Expert

Borderline geek, loves trying and mastering, new and innovative ways of working

The Socialite

Natural storyteller and connector, great communication skills and is used to social conversations on Facebook, Twitter etc

The Siloist

Enjoys working alone, often reluctant to share work in progress, likes to hoard information

The Dinosaur

Creature of habit, not keen on trying new things, takes encourage to embrace new tools

The Skeptic

Can be very vocal opponents to collaboration, often focus on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) mentality

The Executive

Decision maker that is driven by time, speed, and efficiency

The Stealth Ninja

Likes to lay low and oversee without too much involvement

The Taskmaster

Loves being organised, is operational focused and keen to get things done, loves lists and action plans

  1. Motivation
    In order for collaboration to succeed, Mentors need to ensure everyone involved feels that they have something to gain from the collaboration and they are an important part of working towards a valuable result. For this to be successful make sure everyone knows the benefits!
  2. Problem Solving
    For collaboration to work, participants need to work together to solve problems, offering advice, skills and help when needed. Two minds are better than one but better yet, how about three or four?
  3. Diversity
    Collaboration encourages participants to consider alternatives. Collaboration works best when the group has a wide range of skills and participants have differing areas expertise.
  4. Teamwork
    Collaboration brings individuals together into a group entity with a shared work purpose.
  5. Engagement
    Collaboration encourages everyone to be an active player. The participants decide when things need to happen and then make them happen
    Build the Relationship
  • Give and receive feedback from peers or other team members to perform the task
  • Share credit for good ideas with others
  • Acknowledge others’ skill, experience, creativity, and contributions
  • Listen to and acknowledge the feelings, concerns, opinions, and ideas of others
  • Expand on the ideas of a peer or team member
  • State personal opinions and areas of disagreement tactfully
  • Listen patiently to others in conflict situations
  • Define problems in a non-threatening manner
  • Support group decisions even if not in total agreement
  • Give and seek input from others (in formulating plans for recommendations)
  • Assist others in solving problems and achieving own goals
  • Share information, ideas, and suggestions
  • Ask for help in identifying and achieving goals and solving problems
  • Check for agreement, and gain commitment to shared goals
  • Notify others of changes or problems promptly
  • Make procedural suggestions to encourage progress towards goals
  • Check for understanding
  • Negotiate to achieve a “win-win” outcome

Open vs Closed Collaboration

Open Collaboration Learning

  • Anyone can join and everyone can participate
  • A problem is set/published which launches the collaboration for anyone to contribute to
  • Support is sought from an unlimited number of problem solvers, who may contribute
  • can be used when the subject area is not well-defined
  • must be easy for participants to contribute ideas, work, and resources

Time and Place – Collaboration can differ in terms of timing and place also.

Same time/Real Collaboration

  • Happens when everyone interacts in real time, usually occurs face to face like in meetings/discussions i.e., same time, same place.
  • Allows for immediate response and feedback.
  • Thanks to technology though, we no longer must be in the same place to communicate and collaborate at the same time.
  • Technology enables us to collaborate at the same time but be in different places


Leadership can also differentiate the collaborative learning process.

Equal Standing

  • In this collaborative model, all participants have an equal ranking.
  • All the participants share their challenges and make come up with solutions together

Closed Collaborative Learning

  • Occurs in private groups where access is limited or moderated
  • Here collaborators tackle problems in small groups with one or more people.
  • participants are chosen by a manager, educator, or a group leader
  • usually consist of a smaller number of participants than the open model
  • can be used for example in inter-company, inter-school collaborations
  • should be used when the subject area is well defined, and it is possible to determine the most appropriate contributors for the project

Different Time

  • This occurs where the interaction is not time sensitive, and replies are not instant – an example of this is email.
  • Technology has also influenced the way this type of collaboration occurs making it flexible: available anytime, anyplace.
  • Can be used for one-to-one communication and one to many communications.
  • Contribution to discussion can be more evenly distributed.

Individual Leader

  • Occurs when the process is ‘Top Down’. For example, a boss, teacher, or group leader leads and sets the tone for the collaborative learning process