Before I had this session in the course, I have often mixed up the meaning of collaborative learning with that of corporative learning in the sense that I have seen them as one and the same. While discussing the meaning of this type of learning with my group members, it was clear to me that collaborative learning is an approach that encourage groups of learners to work together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. In addition, collaborative learning involves social interaction, where students share their ideas and actively contribute to solving problems or completing a task. Although corporative learning can take a similar form where students also learn and produce something together, the roles students/learners take for both types of learning can differ. In collaborative learning, the learners work towards a common goal and common task, in addition, try to build a community. The corporative learning on the other hand, task are delegated between learners, building a community or working towards a common goal is not prioritized. Furthermore, cooperative learning can be done asynchronously while collaborative learning can be done synchronously while solving task.
Given that collaborative learning can take many approaches to expose learners to different viewpoints from individuals usually with diverse backgrounds, knowledge and experiences, it enhances positive interdependence, individual accountability, group processes, collaborative skills and promotive interaction (Halili, et al., 2014; Moor,2019). So how do we as instructors promote such type of learning to ascertain that students/participants actually collaborate effectively and use collaboration to it’s full potential.
From my experience, I have actually worked to enhance collaborative learning more than I realized. I have attempted several approaches using different activities to enhance collaboration among students. Below, I discuss two of them.
Characteristics of task: Giving a task that can promote collaboration in group work is paramount when it comes reaching a common goal. In the past, I have made sure that the task has clear instructions and is relevant for the students, most specifically it has to be a task that the students can easily relate to (Brindley et al., 2009). Doing this makes sure that the students are able to effectively engage, communicate and share resources with one another.
Group formation: To enhance collaboration, I prefer to put students in a group of 4 and not more than 6. This is to ensure that everyone in the group would effectively contribute and some don’t feel that they thier voices are not heard. The greater number of persons in a group the more some participants feel they don’t have to put in effort. Furthermore, constructing a group with participants that have diverse skills and expertise provides more room for productive engagement. Such heterogeneous collaborative learning groups will influence development of participants in a positive way because they tap on each other’s assets and help mitigate each other’s weaknesses which in turn enhances learning (Moore et al., 2019)
With the new event of Covid-19 where most lectures and learning are done online, it makes it more important that students are able to collaborate where the social presence can also be stimulated in students. Providing an avenue where students can meet discuss and feel safe will likely help in utilizing collaborations between students to its full potential.
Brindley, J. E., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(3).
Halili, S. H., Abdul Razak, R., & Zainuddin, Z. (2014). Enhancing collaborative learning in flipped classroom.
Moore, B., Boardman, A. G., Smith, C., & Ferrell, A. (2019). Enhancing collaborative group processes to promote academic literacy and content learning for diverse learners through video reflection. SAGE Open, 9(3), 2158244019861480.