Human beings have an innate need to not be alone; to be part of a group. Throughout history, mankind has proven time and time again that they belong in a pack or group. The chances of survival are much better if people work together. Howard Rheingold provided the example that cave men used to work together to hunt for food, to survive. In education, the instinct to endure is still present. Without being told to do so, students will form groups to work together to complete assignments and learn from each other to “survive” or pass the test. Constructivists believe education should be a collaborative effort by the students. Working in groups allows students to be in charge of their own learning, practice social negotiation, and develop “multiple perspectives and multiple modes of learning” (Driscoll, 2005, p. 384). If humans have a natural instinct to work together, then constructivism is an instructional strategy that follows that instinct.
As the world progresses in the arena of technology, it only makes sense that it should a part of education. The possibilities are endless when technology is used as a collaborative tool. Document sharing sites such as Google Docs or Skydrive and programs like Skype or GoToMeeting allow students to each contribute to a group project even if they can’t physically be together. In a 2009 study, Barbera found that when students worked together on a netfolio (a collective e-portfolio) assessing one another’s work resulted in better individual work. “Using the netfolio leads to more revisions both by the students, of their own work, and amongst students, and this in turn leads to better final results” (Barbera, 2009, p. 353).
Barbera, E. (2009). Mutual feedback in e-portfolio assessment: an approach to the netfolio system. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2), 342-357. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00803.x
Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html