With increased access to technology and newer, more innovative ways of teaching, many teachers are now diverting away from the old-fashioned rote-learning culture. Instead, they are focusing more on empowering and guiding students to think critically through a collaborative learning approach.
A collaborative learning approach helps develop higher-level thinking, oral communication, leadership skills, and self-motivation. Moreover, it teaches students how to manage tasks and assignments more productively, improves relations, and increases students’ understanding of diverse perspectives. A study stated that by tailoring your questions in a collaborative environment, student response rates can skyrocket to 75.9%. Similarly, several teachers also believe that group work and collaborative projects can significantly improve students’ outcomes.
However, a collaborative learning environment requires careful implementation and strategizing. Remember, a single group activity will not produce the desired result. This article will discuss specific effective strategies to help you create a collaborative learning environment for adult learners of today.
Maintain an inclusive and supporting environment
Inclusivity is essential in education. An inclusive environment reduces absenteeism, creates opportunities for friendships, and increases social networks. Furthermore, an inclusive classroom environment tailors teaching to all learners, including disabled and differently-abled students. In higher-level degrees, you will find students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Inclusion allows students to discuss how everyone learns in their distinct way. In other words, it makes the difference less different. Lastly, an inclusive and supporting environment supports all students and creates high expectations.
However, many educators face difficulties in establishing an inclusive environment. That’s mainly because they are unaware of the proper techniques and strategies. So, it’s worthwhile to consider taking an online teaching certification focused on rapport-building techniques. Rapport-building is a highly effective strategy that helps in implementing a collaborative environment. You can better influence, learn, and teach others with a rapport. Moreover, students will be more willing to listen, share information, and support their unique and challenging ideas.
Eliminate knowledge gaps
Another crucial step towards establishing a collaborative learning environment is eradicating knowledge gaps between students and teachers. Eliminating knowledge gaps ensures cross-collaboration and an excellent learning experience. Cross-collaboration provides learners the unique opportunity to teach and learn from one another. It promotes innovation and critical thinking. The primary objective behind cross-collaboration is to help students learn through cooperation, not isolation.
Identifying and addressing learning gaps is highly critical. If left unattended, learning gaps can increase students’ chances of struggling academically. You can close learning gaps by spending time with students, keeping instruction evidence-based, maintaining rigor, and tracking progress.
Establish common goals
Establishing common goals is one of the best techniques for creating a collaborative classroom environment. Let your learners decide the purpose and plan for the session. Or you can set the agenda for the students in the beginning and allow them to work towards the goal. You can also breakdown the session’s agenda into the following parts:
- Discussion of the problem and division of tasks
- Individual tasks
- Share individual work among the group
- Present the final solution
Having shared goals allows students to work towards a task together. It’s instrumental in boosting class morale, enhancing student trust, and improving student-teacher relationships. Common goals also assist learners in setting priorities, aligning their focus, and defining their career trajectory.
Shared authority and leadership are essential elements of the collaborative learning approach, especially for adult learners. Shared authority promotes kinship and freezes the threat of underperformance and impeding concentration.
Many students and teachers claim results are better when both are in charge of the learning progress. A shared leadership approach enhances efficiency, improves outcome, increases team morale, and makes every team member feel essential and appreciated. Moreover, shared authority helps you focus on the bigger picture, helps students manage work-life, and helps them finish tasks faster.
Responsibility sharing puts each student in charge of the assignment. It allows them to speak up, share their opinions, and fix what is not working. Sharing authority and responsibility is an excellent way to enhance learners’ decision-making skills and prepare them for the real corporate world. It increases students’ engagement levels and, as a result, yields better, more productive outcomes.
Embrace decentralized learning
Decentralization focuses on innovation and aims to instill curiosity amongst students. It gives learners opportunities to learn directly from industry professionals and their mentors. Experts often define decentralization as a concept of giving back to the providers. But since no government or regulatory body sets a curriculum for students, there is no need to regurgitate information back to instructors.
Instead, a decentralized learning approach focuses on mastering information by making personal connections. Remember, personal relationships are only possible when students are free to learn as they choose. A decentralized education system increases control on the local level, the ability to localize courses, and the ability to manage more content.
Promote teamwork and group projects
Group work is undoubtedly the crux of a collaborative learning approach. Teamwork and group projects help students develop relevant skills for a collaborative process.
By working in groups, students can tackle more problems than they could on their own. It is also an excellent way to share different perspectives, communicate openly, and delegate roles and responsibilities. Group work also teaches students essential social skills, leads them to hold one another accountable, improves self-confidence, and sets them up for future employment success.
Foster open communication
Open communication improves productivity, boosts students’ confidence levels, and reduces cultural gaps. Open communication also helps team members feel more appreciated, improves conflict resolution, and offers feedback for improvement. Furthermore, open communication allows innovation, builds trust, and creates a positive community between the learner and the educator.
There are four types of open communication:
- Verbal vs. non-verbal
- Open vs. closed communication
- Positive vs. negative communication
- Effective vs. ineffective communication
Teachers can establish effective communication in the classroom by encouraging teamwork, creating a safe environment, using active listening exercises, and giving positive feedback.