Thanks, Deirdre. Yes, J.Salmon's 5 stages of collaboration are well-used. I remember using them for a 2004 article on online-collaboration, too.
Currently, I've found myself referring to S.Downes
4 conditions of network quality: autonomy; diversity; openness; and interaction/connectivity. (I heard this at an Australian Council seminar March 31 of this year - must be in a paper by now.)
Nellie asked us what conditions are necessary for successful collaboration - I'd say Downes' conditions inform this question. Some of my research showed practices that sustained an informal adult learning group were:
Valuing and eliciting group members' personal experience and knowledge;
Practicing "spaciousness" - unhurried listening and reflective participation;
Creating an informal and supportive culture of participation;
Growing trust through collaborative interaction;
Regularly clarifying and reiterating group goals;
Developing and using critical feedback mechanisms;
Using ethical practice;
Creating and applying criteria for relevant and credible information.
Do these practices apply to formal education context as well?