Scripting the Success of Collaborative Learning*

Collaboration is a good way to invite ideas and brainstorm – so it is a great practice for the workplace. However, many L&D managers often worry that collaborative learning might not always meet learning objectives set out by the training team. So, while collaboration between employees can certainly create engaging learning experiences, the learning also needs to be impactful and aligned to the learning objectives. For this, it is necessary to create a structured environment of learning with collaboration as a part of the strategy. With a blend of technology-aided learning and the intervention of trainers, it is possible to create successful collaborative learning within the corporate scenario.

  • Within an online discussion forum, learners can be presented with a series of questions on a specific topic. The learners can answer them online and each answer is studied by the trainer. The learners with the most conflicting answers are put together in a group and asked to answer the questions again. The groups collaborate to form answers and after a stipulated time, all answers are discussed to generate the final set of answers that makes the most sense to the entire group.

This model of collaborative learning creates conflicts among learners and encourages arguments to enable closer interactions. The back and forth of style of questioning succeeds in engaging learners and effectively produces learning through collaboration.

  • Stories are always an interesting way to get the attention of learners. The process of ‘building’ a story can be utilized to create a model of collaborative learning.  The trainer can provide the first chapter of a story. The learners are encouraged to read the chapter and write the continuing second chapter of the story. All the entries are read and the learners vote for their favorite. With the aid of collaborative features built within popular tools like MS Word or MS PowerPoint, comments and suggestions can be included. Thus though a particular entry is chosen over the rest, the other learners can also contribute in making it better. The story then continues for a predefined set of chapters, till it reaches a mutually agreed end.

In this model, the learners are encouraged to interact more freely with each other and apart from starting off the ‘story’, the trainer acts as an un-biased moderator.  This model works very well when developing creative thinking and ideation.

  • Similarly, collaborative learning can also be achieved with a project-based approach. A project can be segmented into phases and the learners are grouped into teams, who work on each phase. The project commences with the first phase – with clear set of goals and deliverables, to be achieved within a stipulated time. At the end of each project phase, the deliverables are shared in an online forum. The other teams can look at the work and take inspiration from it to move forward. While each team finally submits their own deliverables, the final product is built through mutual inspiration and support.
  • Finally, Peer Learning can also build powerful avenues for collaborative learning in the workplace. A novice learner and a peer expert can be presented with a self-paced online learning course. The course should be structured to include sections of informative content and a series of questions on the same. For the first section, the novice can read the content and the expert can question him or her on the same. In the following section, the roles are reversed and the novice can ask questions from the expert. This process is repeated till the end of the course.

Though in this model, the experience and knowledge of one learner exceeds the other, it creates successful collaboration between the two peers. While the inexperienced learner benefits from the knowledge of his peer, the experienced learner takes this opportunity to revise and revisit concepts to strengthen knowledge on the topic

*This article was wrote by Arumina Majumdar and published in

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