Students Responsibilty in a Collaborative Learning Environment

What do we mean by ” What are the responsibilities of the learner in a collaborative learning environment?”

According to Collins English Dictionary, the definition for responsibility is : state of being answerable; duty; charge; obligation. The definition of collaborate in Webster’s Dictionary is : to work or labor together; to act jointly.

From these two definitions it appears that the question we are asking is what are the obligations, duties or tasks the learners are accountable for when working with others in a learning experience. However is this really what we are trying to establish? There may be two different way of interpreting this question.

# 1) Does it mean that we should negotiate or establish at the onset of a project what roles or expectations each individual will contribute to the overall success of the learning experience?  Or…

# 2) How are learners responsible for their own learning in order to get the most out of this group experience?

If we look at question #1, I believe with adult learners like ourselves, this would be quickly established as each individual would claim one section and develop it accordingly. However if this was a high school setting, I don’t believe this would be so easy. Duties would likely need to be negotiated and moderated by the teacher. This question is primarily based on practicality and less on self motivation. Basically it is to establish rules to ensure each member of the group participates on the project.

In question #2, it is much more individualized and internal. As we mature, I believe many of us develop a greater sense of responsibility towards our own learning. In a collaborative environment if we don’t take responsibility for our own learning then we risk the chance of acquiring very little useful tools or knowledge from this experience. When we collaborate with others we learn together, from each other. We may choose to fully engage in the process or simply go through the motions, it is our choice. When we engage it is no longer an obligation but rather a desire to learn.

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