With the popularity of e-learning, wide use is gaining collaborative learning. It is time-saving for instructors and way more efficient for students.
So, what is collaborative learning exactly? What are the benefits and strategies? We will answer all your questions in this article.
So, if you are ready, let’s start!
The following article covers:
Collaborative learning as a type of eLearning
“Cooperative learning is an educational approach that promotes interaction among students and shared responsibility for academic achievement.”
Stein, R. & Hurd, S. (2000)
First, let’s get clear on the definitions.
Collaborative learning is simply learning in groups instead of individually. The focus is on collaboration between students. So, as the name suggests, it includes lots of group work and discussions.
Collaborative learning is one of the most efficient learning strategies. You can easily implement it in the eLearning process.
How does collaborative learning benefit the training?
Well, we are clear on what collaborative learning is. But where are actual facts proving its benefits?
Here they are. Collaborative learning benefits students in multiple ways, such as:
- Develops lots of skills that are vital for everyday life. These include oral communication, critical thinking, and leadership.
- Increases students’ sense of responsibility as well as engagement levels
- Makes the learning experience more wholesome
- Exposes students to diverse opinions and perspectives, developing thinking skills
- Encourages and improves brainstorming and problem-solving abilities
- Helps students to learn how to work in teams which is essential knowledge for the job market
- Allows the instructor of the course to incorporate more engaging activities throughout the course
Of course, these are not the only benefits of collaborative learning. But we tried to list the most important ones.
Most common collaborative learning strategies
Collaborative learning is a process. This means that various learning strategies must be incorporated into the process for efficient implementation.
Here are a few of the most common collaborative learning strategies.
This strategy includes the instructor giving learners a question or a topic for discussion.
Also, learners are given a specific deadline of approximately 5-15 minutes. During this, they can brainstorm ideas, discuss the topic and summarize a response for a whole group. Later, the response is shared with other groups and the instructor.
Simulations are beloved by many students. They take on various roles during a simulation and work on a certain issue. For instance, it can be a business-related simulated dilemma that two companies need to negotiate about. Two students can take on the roles of CEOs of two negotiating companies. Meanwhile, others can take the roles of attorneys, negotiators, etc.
Even though simulations sound like role-playing, it is an efficient strategy to test students’ knowledge & skills in practice.
One of the simplest strategies to incorporate is the encouragement of in-class discussions. Debates and discussions are truly powerful, especially when related to the training material. They will help students to dig deeper, understand concepts better and stay engaged.
Just ensure that the class policy of not offending anyone and respecting one another is clear for everyone to avoid conflicts.
Peer Reviews, Grading & Editing
This collaborative learning strategy teaches students to view the works from the critical and professional perspective of the instructor. While reviewing and editing one another, they practically learn from each other’s mistakes.
Another strategy you can use is giving students a problem. Afterwards, divide them into groups, giving them time to devise a solution. The deadline for this can be until the next class so as to give students time to meet outside of the session. As well as time to discuss the problem and maybe even create presentations of their solution.
Instructor’s role in collaborative learning
The instructor’s role in collaborative learning is indeed big. For instance, when the instructor is not able to create an atmosphere or incorporate the right activities, learning won’t be efficient.
So, here are the key roles of instructors in collaborative learning.
- Start and encourage discussions. E.g., you can ask open-ended questions that raise debates.
- Clarification of key concepts and making sure that students are clear. You can ensure clarity through Q&A sessions.
- Make sure everyone is respectful to one another and does not dominate the conversation by not letting others speak.
As an instructor, you are the facilitator of the training. So, make sure that the learning material is well organized. Also, ensure that activities are balanced and that students are comfortable.
Collaborative learning and Cooperative learning
Many people tend to confuse collaborative and cooperative learning. So, let’s distinguish those by looking at the similarities and differences.
Common similarities these two share include:
- Both encourage and put focus on student engagement.
- Both aim at creating interaction and establishing communication between learners.
- Both aim to improve certain social and emotional skills.
So, what differentiates them if they are similar in these major aspects?
Well, the differences are:
- In cooperative learning, the whole group of students works toward achieving a common learning objective. Meanwhile, in collaborative learning, students are divided into multiple small groups. Smaller groups are aimed at helping them learn about key concepts. Plus the practical implementation of those. Collaborative learning aims to improve students’ expertise.
- Both encourage student participation. However, cooperative learning is instructor-led. In contrast, collaborative learning is more oriented toward student-led sessions.
One more difference is that cooperative learning is more about formal learning. Meanwhile, the collaborative one is about informal learning.
Collaborative learning activity examples
Let’s use practical examples to help incorporate collaborative learning into your training program.
For instance, Group Projects. Here is a more specific example. You can choose a niche topic out of your course. Then divide students into groups assigning one topic for each. They will need to have additional meetings with their groups. Throughout meetings, do research, test, and make final presentations to present in class.
Another example is shared tasks. Once again, divide students into smaller groups. Then, assign a task for each group. A task can be as simple as drawing a poster and visualizing the material to explain it to the other groups better. Or it can be a debate topic, and groups need to prepare for it in 15 minutes.
“Talk partners” is another example of collaborative learning. If there are not many students or trainees within a virtual training session, pair them. Explain that questions you ask must be first discussed within the pair and then be answered.
How can Uteach help in Collaborative learning?
Uteach is an incredible platform for course creators, online educators, coaches, and virtual trainers. With the help of Uteach, you can create and power a customized website for your eLearning business.
It offers integrations with various video conferencing and design tools. Plus, it offers end-to-end live sessions. These features will greatly benefit you in collaborative learning.
You can host live webinars & encourage group activities as well as discussions. Also, you can incorporate various strategies and activities to enhance the students' learning experience.
Uteach is potent automation that allows you to take control of your business in every aspect. It provides you with the tools necessary for hosting effective learning sessions. Tools include a quiz builder, calendar & certification builder as well.
So, if you want to enhance the collaborative learning experience of your students and are searching for a perfect platform - Uteach is for you.
Uteach is with you all the way toward success.