Collaboration is key

Why collaborative learning is important even in the digital age

April 07, 2021 12:36 pm | Updated April 22, 2021 01:44 pm IST



Today’s classroom is very different from earlier ones and, as the educational landscape evolves, India needs to rethink teaching models and practices. For a more cohesive approach to learning, what is required is a partnership between the key stakeholders: learners, educators, and parents. Collaborative learning has major advantages; not just academic but also social and psychological.

Collaborative versus competitive

Recent studies have shown that peer-to-peer learning is fun and engaging for students, especially when it comes in the form of digital game-based learning. Increased engagement means that students are actively participating and involved. Collaboration also helps develop a social support system for learners and establishes a positive atmosphere, which leads to higher productivity. Furthermore, utilising collaborative learning can also lead to better retention of knowledge.

Many cite competitive learning as the antithesis of collaborative or cooperative learning, as it allows only one student to emerge at the top. This inevitably leaves other learners discouraged or unengaged. The pressures associated with competition can also lead to mental health issues that can be detrimental to overall well-being. Additionally, when competitive learning is encouraged, earning high grades and teacher approval may seem more important than actual learning.

Bridging student-teacher relationships

When teachers work together with students, they appear to be on the same level as the students, leading to an improvement in the relationship. Being able to feel like an equal liberates students and encourages them to be more receptive to feedback, leading to greater retention.

Technology’s role

Peer learning has existed for decades and learners huddling together on campus was a familiar sight. With the pandemic accelerating the adoption of digital technology, it is vital to incorporate this key learning style into the e-learning curriculum as well. A course developer needs to verify that collaborative tools and functions are available on the chosen Learning management system (LMS). An ideal LMS offers a truly connected and engaging experience for learners and teachers alike, allowing for the same level of collaboration even in the online classroom. LMS platforms equipped with collaborative features can help build discussion forums within and outside courses. These allow learners to share information and raise questions that can be answered by fellow peers or instructors. Institutions can also make forum participation mandatory, encouraging further peer-to-peer learning.

In short, collaborative learning and LMS platforms that allow seamless collaboration without the need of external plugins are key to highly streamlined, quality education in the 21st century.

The writer is Senior Solutions Engineer with D2L.

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