Collaborative learning and cooperative learning are often confused, but they are two distinct learning types. Here’s what they have in common and what makes them different!

Whether the learning is collaborative or cooperative, it is all about achieving a common goal through the participation of all group members.

However, their pedagogical objective and modalities are not the same. The pedagogical aim of cooperative learning is to have everyone learn a planned, structured and imposed content while improving their collaborative skills.

Collaborative learning, on the other hand, aims to help the learner achieve a common shared goal and personal objectives, as well as to allow the learner to learn “in his or her own way,”; all this while exploring, discovering or developing a content or a structure.

Thus, cooperation relies on the distribution of tasks and responsibilities among group members, whereas in collaboration, each member is responsible for carrying out their task in their own way – a task that, although accomplished differently, is essentially the same for everyone, unlike the tasks distributed in a cooperative approach.

Collaborative learning, more flexible and well-suited to adults, requires more autonomy and control on the part of the learner, who makes more decisions and takes on more responsibility. In short, collaborative learning is an active approach in which everyone works to build their knowledge, and one of the collateral benefits is that it helps develop strong interpersonal skills.

Catherine Meilleur

Catherine Meilleur

Communication Strategist and Senior Editor @KnowledgeOne. Questioner of questions. Hyperflexible stubborn. Contemplative yogi

Catherine Meilleur has over 15 years of experience in research and writing. Having worked as a journalist and educational designer, she is interested in everything related to learning: from educational psychology to neuroscience, and the latest innovations that can serve learners, such as virtual and augmented reality. She is also passionate about issues related to the future of education at a time when a real revolution is taking place, propelled by digital technology and artificial intelligence.