Why Do Learners Cooperate? Hints from Network Sciences on Motivation for Collaborative Learning

Fabio Nascimbeni, MENON Network, Belgium


The present paper starts from the consideration that, being collaborative learning the cornerstone for learners to take an active role along their lifelong learning process, educational research and practice should aim at improving the understanding of what lies behind learner’s cooperative attitudes. To do this, educational research and practice should take into account some findings coming from networks science, and we propose two conceptualisations. First, starting from the work of Novak, we describe some mechanisms that foster the adoption of cooperative behaviours within networks: direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, kin influence, spatial influence, multilevel influence; understanding these dynamics is key to sustainably foster cooperation within learning communities. Second, we propose some conditions that should be taken into account when planning collaborative learning support strategies; issues like confidence, commitment, divergence and decentralisation are briefly commented from an educational point of view. Finally, we briefly explore the concept of collaboration leadership within networks. The success of any collaboration learning venture depends on the capacity of the parties to work towards a common objective, sharing concerns and working out common solutions: the paper hints to some findings on collaboration motivations and conditions that can foster meaningful network-thinking within education.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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