Collaboration skills

Traditional education system encourages competition among students to select a few who are the best. In this system, students often study alone, keeping what they know to themselves, and do not discuss with others as they are afraid of someone may be better than them. Any collaboration or sharing information can be considered cheating. Today, this concept is obsolete. To succeed in this technology-driven world, students must develop collaboration skills so they can work in a team successfully.

However, to encourage the students to collaborate is difficult, especially in countries where collaboration skills are still new. When I teaching in Asia, I found that every time I asked students to work on a small project, they often divided the work into smaller tasks where each of them works independently and integrates their pieces together at the last minute. It took me several attempts to get them to work together but after I left, most of them returned to their old habit.

In this fast-changing world, most works are done in a team as nobody can work alone anymore. Teamwork is about the sharing of opinions, exchange information, develop solutions, discuss issues, helping others toward a common goal. If students are not trained in collaboration in school, they will have difficulty when going to work. Some become disengaged with their team as they do not know how to express their opinions, share information, or participate in the development of solutions. This uncooperative attitude is considered by others as incompetent, unproductive and may lead to they are being eliminated from the team.

Since most of the future work in will be distributed to many locations which means the team will consist of people from many places or countries, team members must know how to communicate using the same language such as English. Even they may not see others but they must collaborate with each other every day. In this technology-driven world, the ability to collaborate and communicate is essential.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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