What is Collaborative Learning?

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The Meaning of Collaborative Learning
Collaborative Learning or team based learning is when two or more people learn something new together. The simplest form of collaborative learning is joint study. Collaborative learning can be helpful in project work, research projects and other types of team-based activities. In collaborative learning, people learn new things with each other’s help. It is today a very popular teaching process around the world. Teachers divide students in groups in schools and colleges and make them study and complete projects.

Collaborative Learning – Advantages
1. When learning in collaboration with each other, students learn from the entire group’s weaknesses and strengths. They gain from the strong points and work together to improve each other’s weak points.

2. Scores are given to the entire group in team based learning. So the students know that if they want good results, they have to work with each other and not as individuals. This helps to build team work and responsibility which will also help them in their careers.

3. Since they need to work on assignments together, kids do all the research on their own with the use of study aids like educational CDs, internet, textbooks by different publishers, etc. This improves their knowledge on the subjects and helps them understand the concepts of the subject better.

4. Many times pupils are asked to teach a particular subject to the entire class. This means that the students need to research the subject well on their own and then make the rest of the class understand it. This again improves the student’s understanding of the subject and will also raise their confidence.

5. Collaborative learning helps children to focus only on the aspects of learning that they are responsible for. They rely on the other members of the team to help them with other aspects of the subject and share each other’s findings among themselves.

6. Most of the careers today demand the ability to work in teams, share work and trust your team members to complete the work assigned to them. Collaborative learning from school days inculcates this ability among students to work in teams, delegate work, evaluate the work done, share the strengths and work around the team’s weaknesses together. Collaborative learning plays a vital role in moulding students into professionals.

7. Change in focus from competition to collaboration is an important advantage of collaborative learning. Traditional methods of learning are very individual centric and can lead to competition.

Elements of Collaborative Learning
Positive interdependence is the first major element of collaborative learning. The students should know that for that group to be successful, each one of them must put in equal amounts of efforts. It will be of no use to the group if just one of the students is working hard. They should also be made to realise that each one of them has a unique talent that they bring to the group and that the group is incomplete without them.

The second important element of team based learning is to improve the children’s oral communication skills by promoting face to face interaction between them. The students should be made to explain the different elements of a subject to each other and make sure that everyone understands what is being taught. It is their own responsibility to make sure that everyone in the group is on the same level at the end of the lesson.

The size of the groups should not be big. It is the teacher’s job to make the students understand that everyone is accountable to and for everyone in the group. They should be made to realize that everyone is equal in the group. The teacher should examine the students from time to time to make sure that everyone is putting in equal amounts of work.

It is the teacher’s responsibility to teach the children social skills like leadership, communication, decision-making and trust building.

The teacher should regularly spend time with the group to assess how much progress they have made. This will tell the students if they are on track or not and they will know how much more effort they need to put in.

Collaborative learning is not common in many schools in India. It is not even encouraged in many schools. Many people think that the traditional way of teaching is the best way to pass knowledge from one person to another. The fear of students not studying or learning anything on their own is one of the reasons why collaborative learning is discouraged. Another reason why schools discourage team based learning is the importance given to high marks during exams. If people gave more importance to projects and assignments that homework and to knowledge than marks obtained, collaborative learning can be implemented in our schools easily.

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Kavita Kumar has 14 articles online

Kavita Kumar is a staff writer for KOOLSKOOL, an online bookstore where you can buy textbooks, stationary, study aids and other school supplies.

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This article was published on 2012/02/06