Passive learning is better than collaboration

Why do we put kids in groups of 30 online (beyond the fact that this number represents a class). Why is it called collaborative learning?

I’d say the further you go past the number 3, the less productive learning becomes. In our game, when 3 kids work together  and 5 more passively watch, all will recount what happened as though they we’re actively engaged. Ask them  to repeat the activity individually, and those who collaborated originally fair no better than passive observers. In fact the passive’s often notice errors the collaborators made and correct them rather than repeat them.

In a document or test, having the benefit of correcting other’s mistakes is called cheating – in a game or virtual world it’s called learning – and learning in 30s would be a really dumb idea.


6 thoughts on “Passive learning is better than collaboration

  1. Online services earn a profit when class sizes are traditionally too large. Large class sizes online allow school district administrators and elected officials to pronounce how they are providing learning opportunities to children at lower costs. This is a ominous trend spreading quickly in U.S.

    By the way, nice job on the blog redesigned masthead.

  2. Whilst I agree somewhat, I believe effective and productive collaboration can occur in large groups. This is reliant on how the collaborative learning experience is established and managed. Many online experiences claim collaboration yet they simply have all the learners “engaging” with the same learning experience simultaneously. If smaller groups collaborate on learning activities that contribute to a larger end goal, such that the sum of the separate activities lead to the goal and each is as important as the others, then large group collaboration is not only possible but effective also.

  3. Thanks for the interesting post! I agree with the part that actual collaboration with 30 peopöe online might be difficult, of course depending on many things, e.g. the level of instruction and scaffolding, the activities, the level of trust and connectedness of the participants…

    What I’d other hand like to think a bit deeper, is what else those actively participating might actually (at best) learn that the bystanders do do not.

  4. @ Shane Roberts: I do agree with you in some parts, but in these larger groups it is also harder to fullfill the requirements for succesful collaborative learning, as Johnson & Johnson posed them. I think larger groups pose much more stress on the learning experience, the activities and the designers/terachers.

  5. Given it being an online environment should there be a limit of 5 passive observers? Something I observed with gaming is that the 3 in the group aren’t the same 3 that started the challenge by the end of it. Often the observers change positions with the participants in the ebb and flow of expertise.

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