Many of the significant advances in human history came as the result of close collaboration — think about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple or John Lennon and Paul McCartney inspiring each other creatively in The Beatles. Working closely with others motivates us to do better, and the intellectual friction that develops during the free exchange of ideas creates a stimulating environment that encourages innovative thinking.
The benefits of this approach are readily apparent in the realm of education and training; online collaborative learning is a popular instructional model that encourages learners to draw inspiration from each other and depend on the group for support and skill sharing.
Online collaborative learning generally occurs in two forms: Self-paced coursework and live learning, often held in virtual classrooms. Self-paced elearning allows students to create a personalized learning experience that is tailored to work with their preferred pace and learning style. Part of this is asynchronous learning, a term that means students can log into to an educational platform at any time, from virtually anywhere.
Live learning, on the other hand, occurs at a fixed time, and is typically led by an online instructor who uses tools such as virtual classroom to replicate the classroom experience while still reaping the benefits of distance learning.
No matter which model is used, online collaborative learning offers an array of compelling benefits — and it is changing the way we teach today. Schools, higher-ed institutions, tutoring academies are creating content around this model to improve learning capacities of individual learners.
How online collaborative learning is changing modern education
We have talked about the benefits of collaboration. It is important to remember that for most of history, collaboration required proximity. If you wanted to learn or work creatively with others, you had to be in the same fixed location.
As the technology matured, we gained freedom from this requirement. Phone lines, then computers allowed people to work together at a distance. It was not until the development of modern online education platforms (such as the learning management system) that the real potential of collaboration at a distance was unlocked.
Now, the benefits of collaborative learning have become far more accessible- as it can happen online on learning management systems. Learners who may not have been able to attend courses in a specific location can now easily log-in from almost anywhere. Thanks to the simplicity, power and user-friendly interfaces of today’s online learning platforms, real collaboration has been achieved.
To help you derive maximum benefits from your online collaborative learning programs, let’s take a closer look at some tips for smart integration.
How to get the most from your online collaborative learning initiatives?
Whether you are running live classes or self-paced courses, it is essential to optimize your approach to peak collaboration and learner performance. First, let’s review some tips for those operating in a live context.
- Track learner engagement. Ensuring that users remain engaged with the material they are learning, is essential for beneficial You can monitor how involved learners are by taking simple steps such tracking how many questions each learner is asking.
- Encourage learners to collaborate in smaller groups. Use your platform to create virtual breakout sessions where learners can work on their specific assignments. By dividing the team into smaller segments on occasion, instructors can spark collaboration and creativity.
- Encourage group interaction. In an online setting, asking questions is critical. In a conventional classroom setting, it is easy to determine whether the students are engaged with the material or falling behind. Asking questions helps you gauge how learners are doing and also encourages them to participate.
- Take full advantage of the features of your online learning platform. By using tools such as calendar integration tools, document sharing and advanced feedback and communication options, and conducting online brainstorming sessions, you can ensure that you foster a culture of collaboration in your learning spaces.
For those working with self-paced instruction, consider the following suggestions:
- Keep the material concise. Learners in asynchronous settings are often pressed for time. By presenting your material in short, easy to digest chunks, you encourage them to stay engaged with course content. Chunking may also give them some more time to connect and work on assignments with their peers, online.
- Make your content immersive. Learning in an asynchronous environment can sometimes lack the interactivity and immersive feel of live settings, whether in person or online. By using gamification, video, virtual reality and other elements, instructors can deepen engagement and encourage creativity and collaboration.
- Use communication tools to encourage discussions. Message boards and social elements are critically important when learning in asynchronous settings. These are critical avenues of collaboration for self-directed learners. By reaching out to each other via these channels, learners can profit from each other’s experience and skills. Using these tools will also help you create a sense of community, where free exchange of ideas is encouraged, and learners are eager to share what they know.
- Personalize the content. Self-directed learners benefit from an approach that resonates with them on a deeper level. Additionally, when they share information about themselves, they build a connection with other learners. Use real-world scenarios that learners will relate to, and encourage them to apply the lessons of what they are learning to their own experiences. Using real-world examples is an excellent way to promote creative and innovative thinking.
Promoting Online Collaborative Learning
Using your LMS to support online collaborative learning will ensure increased satisfaction of learners from your online course. Collaborative learning is an invaluable educational tool, whether you are implementing self-directed or live learning courses. It is essential that you take steps to encourage a collaborative spirit between learners right from the start of the online course.
LMS features like chat rooms, discussion boards, social media integration, screen sharing are invaluable for deepening engagement and improving learning outcomes. To get your course to make a significant impact, follow the steps outlined above to foster collaboration in your online education initiatives.