nline learning can be a challenging process. Often, it requires some concentration and a level of engagement from students. Yet, how can an instructor ensure greater immersion of students?
Our answer is — by implementing collaborative learning strategies!
They will surely add to students' active learning and motivation and even improve a firm's organizational learning.
Read on to explore the effective collaborative learning activities and examples of how to use them for your course or corporate training.
What is a collaborative learning strategy?
First, an online collaborative learning strategy is an instructional and training method under which two or more students interact to perform a learning activity, understand a concept, apply a model, or develop specific skills.
There are different types of collaborative teaching strategies that instructional designers and course creators may use:
- Jigsaw methods.
- Peer teaching activities (peer-to-peer discussion, peer editing, etc.).
- Problem-centered collaborative learning activities (case studies, role-playing, etc.).
- Cohort or community learning tasks based on conversation.
In most of them, the instructor’s role is to design experience via collaborative tools rather than share knowledge as an expert.
Great online collaborative learning strategies to implement in training or course
Today, with the rise of skills demand, instructors and course creators actively adopt proven classroom methods within the online realm. That way, they keep students engaged and motivated.
However, what collaborative teaching techniques can best be incorporated into a virtual classroom?
This section will cover the most effective ones and share the collaborative learning examples great for adopting in a classroom, training, or course.
Jigsaw collaborative teaching strategy
The Jigsaw learning technique contemplates breaking the students into “home” groups, where each member becomes the expert in a subtopic of a larger concept or topic learned by the “home” group.
In particular, as two or more home groups are formed, the instructor breaks them into expert groups that explore specific subtopics or smaller parts of a larger concept. So, each expert studies a particular topic. Then, they return to the home group to present acquired knowledge and start a discussion about a larger issue. Lastly, all students may have a test on this subject.
As a result, the Jigsaw technique allows breaking complicated or comprehensive topics into subtopics and then assembling them as a puzzle so that the home group understands the whole picture.
Best for: collaboration training on complex concepts; introduction into theory; first modules.
Note. You can use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for discussion in different virtual rooms and Notion for management of the assignments. Another option is to use EducateMe to make a separate module for it, integrating it with the tools mentioned above.
• Jigsaw collaborative learning example for a marketing course
Imagine you are to create a module on Marketing Mix, and you have a group of 16 people. The marketing mix concept consists of 4P: pricing, promotion, product, and place. Thus, you may create 4 home groups with 4 students in them.
Next, define experts for each “P” element and create expert groups where specific students will explore the matter together. Once they finish, organize the discussion or project for the “home” group students to present the Marketing Mix concept.
Peer-to-peer collaborative learning activities
Another bunch of strategies you may apply relates to student-to-student cooperation, where one student or a group teaches or shares information with others, answering their needs. In that case, the instructor is the facilitator, delivering support and moderating the discussion.
Notably, there are two major types of peer-to-peer collaborative learning strategies:
- Peer teaching is the method implying that a student teaches other students. It can be held in a group informally or formally. It offers excellent opportunities to deepen knowledge and raise engagement.
- Peer editing/review/writing. Another learning collaborative method is where peers review each other’s works, assignments, and tasks. With this approach, the editor or reviewer learns how to criticize and provide feedback constructively. In comparison, the writers learn to accept their opinions and look at things differently.
Best for: filling knowledge gaps; reviewing; improvement of collaboration in the classroom; creative practices; or preparation for brainstorming sessions.
Note. 360 Learning LMS can be helpful in peer teaching, having a separate "learning need” feature with which employees can post their requests. For reviews, apply Loom to record your face and screen for feedback, or create a Trello/Mural/Padlet project and invite people to discuss it.
• Peer-to-peer collaborative learning examples: Teaching and reviewing
Example #1. To improve corporate training, launch a peer teaching program on the learning need in demand. If a specific department needs to fill the knowledge gap, ask a person to do a small discussion, webinar, or the whole course on this topic.
Example #2. For a writing or content creation class, ask students to do a writing review activity, where all students participate in writing and reviewing a video script, brief, or ad copy draft. It will help develop new angles and can turn into a brainstorming session.
Think-pair-share collaborative learning technique
If you are an instructor, the chances are you’ve already used this technique. It is pretty standard for various classrooms and is excellent for collaborative learning.
Think-pair-share strategy contemplates that you first introduce the topic to students, then break them into pairs, and upon the discussion in pairs, allow students to present their ideas to others. Giving them time to analyze the topic, form an opinion first, and then break the audience into pairs for the discussion is essential.
Best for: introducing concepts, studying models and ideas, and discussing exciting cases.
Note. Use Padlet, best for sharing ideas, or Mural, offering sticky notes, as supportive tools. Besides, if you want students to present results during the first webinar, try Zoom and its breakout room feature, allowing you to split meetings into more sessions.
• Think-pair-share learning case for communication course
To present the central concept during the Visual Communication webinar, ask students to cooperate in pairs and discuss the specific communication campaign of the brand/organization.
Make the students elaborate more on the target audience, promotion, and visual elements. It will help them identify the strategy that the organization used. Let them present the answers during the current session or next webinar.
PBL and guided design: Collaborative learning strategies to improve problem-solving
Problem-solving collaborative strategies allow students to learn new skills, insights, and knowledge in collaboration. Let’s take the problem-based learning first concept first.
PBL is a method under which students are given a world-case scenario where they should understand the open-ended problem and find the solution having defined learning objectives in mind.
In contrast, guided design is a more strict approach to problem-solving activities. Under this framework, an instructor divides students into small groups and the problem-solving process into sequences and steps. Each step there is followed by feedback from an instructor.
With these collaborative learning techniques, students get the mechanisms and skills they can use in real life situations, projects, and business practice.
Best for: application of learned materials or frameworks; improvement of problem-solving skills; bootcamps and business schools.
Note. The guided design and PBL need certain organization. In this regard, you can use Notion for better management. On the project pages, you can leave a link to the virtual space like Mural or Figma. They offer great templates for collaboration and creating buyer persona profiles, flowcharts, interviewing, etc.
• PBL collaborative learning example for a business school
Provide a task that asks to create a business model for the product helping to preserve energy in areas with poor electrification.
Ensure they know the following concepts: market research, regulation, product development, analysis, and communication. Your role is to ensure that students understand the issue and will use studied concepts and frameworks to create the product.
• Guided design collaborative learning activity for UX/UI course
To set a problem-solving task, ask students to create an app for the plant shop. You will need to determine the students’ roles, deadlines, and steps for the guided design process. The latter refer to research, ideation, prototype creation, and evaluation stages. Importantly, your goal is to help students with assumptions and provide feedback to groups after each step.
Case studies and simulations: Collaborative learning activities focusing on student roles
Notably, the case study method is a type of PBL learning widely used in business bootcamps and non-tech academies. Why? They provide a sample of or an actual situation in the real world.
Compared to PBL and guided design, certain conditions are known and can not be changed, meaning there are limitations. Yet, they are to encourage students to collaborate, take roles, and find suitable solutions to complex problems.
Simulation is another method that focuses on problem-solving. However, it requires students to take roles within certain scenarios to solve the issue. It allows understanding issues and seeing insights needed for a specific position or job. Besides, it helps to develop empathy and negotiation skills.
Best for: studying comprehensive topics involving multiple stakeholders; business and corporate training related to problem-solving and employee cooperation.
Note. Resort to collaborative learning online platforms to handle group communication and organize the process. At the same time, you can use Notion to determine roles and assign materials and Zoom for the roleplay.
• Simulation learning example for corporate problem-solving
To improve cooperation between marketing and regulatory departments, create a simulation for marketing specialists, where they will take the role of regulators. Marketers’ ideas are often confronted by regulators denying marketing ideas for ethical or regulatory reasons.
Acting as a regulator may help them understand how the regulatory department and regulations work. For better simulation, consult the regulators, use their guidelines and existing laws, and assign necessary materials. There, the regulator may act as a supporting expert or marketer.
Conclusion: Pick and integrate collaborative strategies wisely
These collaborative learning strategies can be a great addition to your course, keeping students engaged. Peer reviews are excellent for feedback, while Jigsaw helps to learn complicated topics. PBL and guided design are the ways to understand frameworks and models, while simulations may be great for improving cooperation within organizations.
That’s what our collaborative learning examples illustrate. Yet, much depends on how you integrate them into the collaboration training. You better have LMS like EducateMe or know some of the collaborative tools for management and organization.