A group in generally considered two or more people working together in such a manner that each person influences and is influenced by the other. Rheingold makes a point that our ancestors had to hunt together to take down large prey, which demonstrates the cooperative nature of a human being. It is my belief that basic instinct is for humans to be self sufficient, but collaborate when necessary. It is my experience, with a husband that hunts, that collaboration is necessary when packing, gearing up, finding shelter, and preparing for the hunt, but then the act of hunting is a solitary endeavor. I think it is the same when in an educational environment. In a class, we talk as a group, share ideas, prepare a project and may even present collaboratively, but the act of ‘learning’ a concept is a solitary effort. Effective collaboration also depends on the group dynamics. Some people prefer to work separately, and some people prefer collaboration, and some prefer to be in charge. It is my belief that the learner should be given the choice to collaborate, as it can be a daunting process unless a controlled system is put into place in order to facilitate the cooperative group effort. The Internet has provided the avenue for collaboration online, and now with cloud computing, sharing is easier than before.
The following is a link to an article about online collaboration and the strategies to promote effective online collaboration.
Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. & Walti, C (2009) Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment.