I was pondering a new-to-me phenomena since I have gone back to school. Up until that time I had known only "cooperative learning" and large group work - all face to face. I have now experienced and come to appreciate online collaboration or collaboration at a distance. There have been times when I did not have the same opinion as I do now. In the earlier stages of learning this new educational format, I did not know which end was up, so to speak. There seemed to be no sense of direction. The physical distance and lack of personal interaction made the task seem that much more daunting.
What I found however is that, given time to steep, the direction and vision for the end product would begin to form and take shape. As the group continued to collaborate, ideas and concepts would begin to make themselves known. It was through the tossing around of thoughts and ideas that we as a collaborative group began to form our own understanding of the topic/task at hand. This made the experience much more meaningful.