As the name suggests, collaborative learning is a teaching approach of imparting knowledge in a group to enhance learning through sharing and working together. Learners are grouped into small teams or pairs to solve problems, complete tasks, discuss lessons or learn new concepts.
Collaborative learning aids the processing of concepts with higher understanding, reducing the need for rote learning and memorization. The main idea of the collaborative learning method of teaching is to encourage learners to assimilate knowledge by engaging actively in presenting their ideas, listening to other viewpoints, discussing, debating, reframing, etc.
Any method of learning should cover various assumptions about learning. Collaborative learning encompasses the following assumptions.
In a way, collaborative learning is like letting a group of learners into a motor garage and encouraging them to take apart a motor vehicle study each part and reassemble the vehicle. This requires a great amount of planning, coordination and collaboration with each member of the group being responsible and accountable for their own learning and the learning of the entire group. This also encourages the learners to set their own conceptual frameworks without relying on the teacher or the textbooks.
The focus now is moving towards adopting a learner-centric model from the teacher-centric model. Collaborative learning is one such model that can be implemented with minimum preparation. Some methods of implementing collaborative learning are to ask learners to have peer to peer discussions about a concept, read and explain the concept in a small group or even debate the different aspects of the concept.
The larger activities of collaborative learning like creating a model to demonstrate a concept, working on a social impact project or even putting up a play from the literature course are like sending a group into the garage.
The activity requires detailed planning taking into consideration a learner’s ability, interest and style of learning and assigning tasks that the learner would enjoy doing to get added information that can be shared with other learners to enhance understanding. While assigning the tasks, care should be taken to ensure that the task has the right amount of challenge so that the learner is engaged enough and at the same time not too difficult for the learners that they fail to perform the task.
Like all game-changing new teaching methodologies, collaborative learning has many benefits. The benefits to an individual learner are:
Collaborative learning is also found to have an enormous impact on the institutions as many problems that an institution faces can be assigned as projects to learners, especially if the problems concern the student themselves. In fact, it can be said that collaborative learning is the best method of solving learner-centric problems as the solution provided for such problems are provided by the major stakeholder. The solutions thus obtained would possibly be apt solutions and easy to implement.
Many modern teaching methods are giving great results in terms of learning outcomes. Collaborative learning is learner-centric and puts the steering wheel in the hands of the learners and leaves the teachers to decide and make the traffic rules.
Are you ready to be the mobility designer and traffic controller? Happy teaching!