Collaboration has been a key theme throughout the DeFT project. It involves collaboration between higher education institutions, schools and other educational and third sector partners. This kind of partnership means that each partner can bring to the project their own specific expertise and experience – the sum of the whole then being greater than the individual parts to form a Professional Network. ‘If you are in a network, you grow professionally’, (Gnawali 2008). This principle also applies to some of the activities that were undertaken within the case studies. Pupil collaboration was fostered through the use of digital technologies and pedagogical approaches that made the most of the affordances of these technologies. Collaboration has always been an important element in education and society more widely, but Jenkins et al. (2009) suggest that collaboration and networking is essential in the 21st-century in order to develop the range of skills required to navigate the digital age, such as negotiation, ‘the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms’ (Jenkins et al., p4).
The concept of community of practice (CoP) has also been used to describe some of the activities undertaken in the case studies which involve extensive collaboration. The CoP concept was developed by Lave and Wenger (1991) to describe the process of learning that operates within groups. Lave and Wenger originally developed the term to refer to the learning that operates between members of a particular profession, or people who share a craft. In this context, people who are experienced and have long- established knowledge of the craft or profession share their knowledge and experience with others. They suggest that the process of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ occurs, in which apprentices learn from the edges of a professional space by observing and learning from the more experienced members of the group at the centre of the practice. Through a process of learning through this participation, situated learning takes place.
Wenger (1998) developed the concept further in his later publications. He suggested that a CoP involved three inter-related aspects: mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared repertoire (Wenger, 1998 pp72-3). When members of the community are mutually engaged in an activity, strong relationships amongst members of the group are formed. The members of the group are mutually engaged in a joint enterprise, which binds the group together. They draw on a shared repertoire of resources and understandings as they engage in this joint project. The ‘Camp Cardboard’ activity (See Case Study 7) provides a strong example of the development of a CoP. The class, supported by the established expertise were focused on a joint activity and drew on a shared repertoire of resources. The use of the blog offered opportunities for the community beyond the classroom to contribute and extend the reach of the CoP.
For References see 3.5.5 References / Links to Further Information