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postheadericon The Facts About Collaborative Learning

I completely agree with the statement “If we are interested in the students’ future, then our way of teaching must reflect the future. ”

The right education is the one, which is planned according to the future need. Present students are future job-seekers. The future working environment won’t be the same as today. iAchieve Learning Due to globalization the world changes into a global society, and the advanced technology transforms the organizational infrastructure. So in the future, the students will work as team workers of wide spread teams, in globalized organizations, using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools to enhance the given jobs.

Keeping the above working scenario in mind, the current education should provide the students, the needed knowledge and training, to face the working environment with confidence.

When we seek a learning method, which consists of team work, and using ICT tools, Collaborative learning appears to be the right answer.

What is Collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is a method of learning, related to co-operative learning, where students form in to groups, to learn and achieve common academic goals, using ICT tools.

In traditional learning, a teacher is solely responsible for everything connected with teaching. The students used to work individually and approach the teacher for needed guidance. In this system, the students’ work alone and compete with eachother. Sharing and helping plays a very small role in learning. Solo teaching and self achievement are the primary features here.

Whereas in collaborative learning the students are more involved, and play an active part in learning and sharing. It encourages students to support and inspire one another.

In this kind of learning, each student is responsible for himself/herself, and for the group. The students help one another; work as a group, learn as a group, and reach the goal, as a group.

Collaborative learning, prepares the students to take more responsibility for themselves and the team. It is based on the idea that learning is a social act where the students discus the subject in depth, and through discussion learning occurs.

Most of us agree that we usually learn more by teaching than we ever learnt as students!

Research also supports this idea, as it has been found that students who learn most are those who give and receive in depth explanations, about what they are learning and how they are learning.

It is proven, that students who work collaboratively achieved higher scores than those who work alone. Plus, students who were at lower levels of achievement, improved significantly when worked with groups.

Research suggests that collaborative learning brings positive results such as –

Responsibility

Collaborative learning shifts the responsibility of learning from the teacher to student. The student becomes a self-directed learner. Sharing the knowledge with the group makes the student a teacher too.

Interest and Involvement

Debates and negotiations create interest on the subject, interested student becomes more involved.

Adjustment

Group diversity paves the way for positive learning. A student after faced with different explanations, on the subject, may re- consider his/her previous viewpoint. The group also prepares the student to respect others opinion and teaches, that denials and criticism are part of learning.

Sharing

Students realize the value of sharing, and that sharing and receiving are, the two sides of the same coin. They also learn that sharing improves the knowledge.

Collaborative learning helps students to become actively and constructively involved in the topic, to feel responsible for their own learning and that of the group, to settle group conflicts amicably and to improve healthy teamwork skills.

Disadvantages of collaborative learning

Some of the disadvantages of collaborative learning are –

Power

Mismatched personalities in a group lead to unequal treatment. The strong one tries to dominate the group.

Out of focus

During the debate, unwanted and prolonged discussions occur.

Speed

Different speeds of learning, results in uneven learning. The dull students face forcing to act fast, and take decisions without understanding the subject completely.

Extra burden

Responsibility of helping dull students creates an extra burden to the advanced students. Some dull or lazy students fail to show effort or depend on other team mates for completion of work.

Undeserved success

Regardless of their contribution, some students get undeserved success.

Why collaborative learning?

Every system has its advantages and disadvantages. When selecting a system according to the need, we go for one which has more pros and less cons. After analyzing the pros and cons, on time of application, we concentrate more on corns and find ways to lessen the negative effects of it.

In the same way, when we go for a system which reflects future working environment, consisting team works, and ICT tools, collaborative learning seems the best option when compared with other methods. It has more advantages and less disadvantages.

Teachers part in collaborative learning.

Teacher has a more important part to play in collaborative learning.

A teacher can assess the students’ capabilities. Accordingly when giving goals or forming groups the important points like conflict resolution skills, mismatched personalities, uneven distribution of workload, should be taken care of.

The teacher should carefully plan and implement the three G’s, Goal, Group, and Guidance. Good explanation at each stage will bring better results.

Explain the collaborative learning steps.

Discussing the aspects,
Listening carefully others opinion,
Consideration of possibilities, and
Deciding accordingly.

The fundamentals of group behavior.

All the students in a group are equal, regardless of their short comings.
Every group member should have equal right and opportunity.
Everyone should share the work and do their duties.

Absolute NO’s

No power games and taking sides.

No prolonged or out of subject arguments.

No escape from duties and discussions.

Goal

Plan the assignment, according to the student’s grade level. Provide appropriate time. Clearly define goals and objectives.

Assignments can include writing projects, problem solving, laboratory work, study teams, debates. For higher classes, Instead of an artificial topic, assignments based on everyday problems, or real world problems can produce much better results in collaborative learning.

Group

In the lower grades, the teacher should form the groups by mix and matching the dull and bright.

In the upper grades the teacher can act as an adviser in forming the groups.

In higher studies the students can choose the group where they are comfortable.

Guidance

According to their educational level, the teacher should provide needed guidance:

For Lower grades – monitor the students’ progress regularly.

For Upper grades- monitor the students’ progress periodically.

For Higher studies – enquire the students’ progress individually and asses how they are progressing. Here some students may act as if they are involved and celebrate team’s success as theirs. The right form of questions on the subject and asking about their views show how much the student is involved in the team work.

How to get more out of collaborative learning?

Comfort and co-operation makes group work a success. The main features of collaborative learning are GROUP, LEARN, SHARE, and ACHIEVE.

Early introduction of collaborative learning fetches maximum benefits to the students. The primary requirement of collaborative learning is understanding and adjusting to the behavior patterns of the group. When a student gets appropriate training in this field, maximum benefits can be achieved.