Collaboration in Collaborative Learning Networks
We can observe a three-step process of progress of a fledgling COIN: (1) innovate, (2) collaborate, (3) communicate
In this first phase, the truly creative action of coming up with a fundamentally new solution to a problem happens. People active in the innovate step are the deep thinkers which are ahead of their time. Taking the creation of the Web as an example, leaders in the innovate phase were visionaries such as Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, or Douglas Engelbart.
The second phase is crucial for the success of the innovation. In this phase the visionary idea is taken up by another group of visionaries, who excel not only in vision, but also in collaborative skills. Those people form the nucleus of the COIN, joined by visionaries of the previous phase as experts, gurus, or wizards, as far as they are still alive. The members of the core group are masters of sharing, sharing not only the work, but also the reward. Together they succeed in getting the innovation really to work. Again taking the creation of the Web as the example, this was the phase where Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailleau, and others got together to develop the first Web servers and browsers.
When the innovation has achieved external recognition, driven by the tireless work of the COIN, the third phase begins. Now the merits of the innovation are made obvious to the external world. This attracts new COIN members who, besides the needed adventurous streak, also posses a strong business gene. They act as communicators, selling the outside world on the advantages of the innovation. This is the cash-in phase where the innovations of the COIN can be converted into real coin. In the example of the Web, this is the phase when the e-business boom took off, when Marc Andreessen left the university to join Netscape, and when Yahoo and eBay were founded.