Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Relationship in Teamwork-Between Cooperation and Parasitism

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Relationship in Teamwork-Between Cooperation and Parasitism

Article excerpt


A Swiss army knife is a great thing! Everything that you need is in your pocket: knife, scissors, screw-driver, can opener, and many other tools. However we are sure that you would not be happy if your hairdresser tried to cut your hair with it, and a kitchen knife serves better for chopping vegetables. What's the difference? A kitchen knife and hairstylists' scissors are tailored for only one single purpose, and no sane person would ever use a knife for hairdressing or scissors for chopping carrots.

The big question which has arisen with the growth of ICT is how; to incorporate this new technology into existing curriculums. In reality there are two possible ways. Some would prefer to see ICT as a tool in every single subject, whilst others would prefer it as a distinctive subject. In the first case we might see a biology teacher, using ICT as a multipurpose tool with one extra function. In the second case, students might have a teacher who is an expert in computers. We would see her, by analogy, as a specialized tool.

At grammar-schools (K9-K12) in Slovenia, ICT is more or less concentrated in one subject (Information Technology). The use of computers outside this subject is rare. Crosscurricular themes and connections between subjects was one of the highest priorities of Slovene school reform (Marentic--Pozarnik 1997, Svetlik 1997). Five years later we can observe that, in reality, subjects are still like isolated fortified islands where teachers defend their territories against intruders from other fields. The authors of this article were aware of this situation, so they tried to establish viable co-operation and transfer of the knowledge between subjects--biology and ICT at their school (Sorgo and Logar 1999). The result was that their students produced about 150 biological web pages, covering topics like evolution, genetics, human anatomy, birds and mammals (over the last four years,) with plans for more.

In a situation where two teachers work with the same students on the same project, we must add to the traditional teacher--student relationship, a teacher--teacher relationship. From former experiences we know that a lot of great projects were never finished, or the results were below expectations, because something went wrong in this relationship.

After our second year we conducted an analysis of our co-operation. The question was: is co-operation between two teachers always something positive for them?

To find the answer to this question we used an ecological analogy. From ecology we know that, in nature, in every relationship between two individuals (or species in a community) one partner benefits from the relationship, or can have a loss, or neither benefits nor loses (Odum 1971, Tarman 1992).


The methodology was simple. We rewrite from the ecological textbooks (Odum 1971, Tarman 1992) all cited relationships between species in a community into a spreadsheet. Everyone of us was forced to find his/her analogy from school life from the biological realm. Where there were two possibilities, like in parasitism, where one of the partners could be host or parasite, everybody wrote both possibilities. After this first step we discussed outcomes. In this way we were able to compare different views, one from the point of view of the IT teacher and the other from the point of view of the science teacher. In the analysis of possible relations we had taken a teacher from each subject as a member of a different species in the relationships.


Predation and parasitism

Both relationships have in common, that one of the partners benefits and the other has losses. The differences are: i) predation is the short term, and parasitism the long term process; ii) in predation the prey is instantly dead. The examples from nature are well known: foxes and buzzards are predators and mice are prey. …

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