Collaboration is one of the 21st Century Skills that encompasses most, if not all, of the 21st Century Skill set. Students who work together to reach a certain goal are collaborating or cooperating. Collaboration and cooperation share that in both approaches, students need to exchange information and must tune their own outcomes of subtasks with those of fellow students. They differ with respect to the division of labor.

In collaborative learning students, all perform the same task together and each student should reach the outcome of the task individually. In cooperative learning, different tasks are divided among group members and all individual outcomes should be brought together to reach one overarching goal. This means that in collaborative learning, basically, each student performs the same task, in cooperative learning there is a set of tasks that are divided over the students (Roschelle & Teasley, 1995).

Collaborative learning (CL) is, therefore, an educational approach to teaching and learning that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. In a CL setting, learners can be challenged by peers, present and defend ideas, exchange diverse beliefs, question other conceptual frameworks, and are actively engaged (Srinivas, 2011). CL represents a significant shift away from the typical teacher-centered in classrooms. Collaborative classrooms are based on students’ discussion and active work. Teachers introducing such learning approaches consider themselves rather be coaches of students, than experts that transmit knowledge to their students.

Collaborative learning in Go-Lab

Go-Lab is providing several apps that help students to acquire collaboration skills. Collaboration among students can be supported by offering students apps to help them perform an inquiry task collaboratively (like the Go‐Lab hypothesis scratchpad), awareness apps, and by offering collaboration rules to structure the collaboration.

Review studies and meta-analyses on collaborative and cooperative learning consistently show the virtues of these approaches, both for cognitive (Hattie & Donoghue, 2016; Lou, Abrami, & d'Apollonia, 2001; Lou et al., 1996) and social outcomes (Slavin, 2015). The mechanisms through which collaborative and cooperative learning work mainly concern the fact that students need to explain subject matter to their peers and receive explanations from their peers.

Collaboration and cooperation are important skills by themselves as well because these skills are needed in professional life too, and this is even of more importance now as it was before. In collaborative and cooperative learning students learn how to take the stance of other students, weight the differences between these stances and their own standpoint, need to explain these differences and find bridges.

Asymmetric collaboration in Go-Lab

The Go-Lab team has designed and created a set of new and revised apps to support the acquisition and application of 21st century skills by students, such as collaboration.


SpeakUp enables communication between students, not only through a browser on their PC or laptop, but also using mobile devices. Using SpeakUp as communication channel, a new type of collaboration, asymmetric collaboration, has been introduced to the Go-Lab ecosystem. In this form of collaboration, students have different versions (variations) of the same lab and therefore need to exchange information to successfully solve the task at hand. For more information regarding SpeakUp look here:

Seesaw Lab

The Seesaw Lab is a virtual laboratory that integrates with the SpeakUp app to provide a collaborative learning experience in Go-Lab. An innovative aspect of this lab is that there are actually two versions of it. In one version, a student can only interact with the left side of a seesaw. In the other version, a student can only interact with the right side of a seesaw. Furthermore, a student sees only objects that are placed on his or her side of the seesaw. If an object is placed on the other side, the seesaw may move out of balance, but the reason for this is not immediately apparent to the student who sees only his or her side. For more information about the Seesaw lab look here:

References & Further reading

Roschelle, J., & Teasley, S. D. (1995). The construction of shared knowledge in collaborative problem-solving. In C. E. O'Malley (Ed.), Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (pp.69-197).

Marjan Laal, Mozhgan Laal, Collaborative learning: what is it?, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 31, 2012, Pages 491-495,ISSN 1877-0428,

Slavin, Robert E. (2015), Cooperative Learning in Elementary Schools, Education 3-13, v43 n1 p5-14 2015.