Collaborative learning can occur within large groups as well as between individuals. Collaborative learning is a form of social construct where group learning and peer-to-peer learning is given equal importance. Groups or individuals sit together to solve problems and discuss concepts. Real world scenarios and problems are included into the discussions. Execution of the identified solutions is given importance. The tasks and activities are assigned to group members. The participants in collaborative learning take the responsibility in implementing the tasks assigned to them.
Research points out that Collaborative learning is quiet beneficial to the participating members as it enables deeper learning and builds intellectual rigor. It builds self-esteem as well as a sense of responsibility. By including diversity in the group, participating members are able to appreciate diverse perspectives from others.
Once members begin to understand others perspectives and are able to offer their ideas and perspectives with clarity then they are all set to build leadership skills.
Some examples of collaborative learning include
Stump your partner: In this method, the participants pose questions to the person sitting next to them. They listen to the lecture up to a certain point and then prepare a question to ask their neighbor. The idea is not to completely stump the person but to create a challenging learning environment to ensure that everyone is attentive and committed to the learning process. Based on the answers the person can be reviewed for their current understanding on the topic.
Problem solving through brainstorming: The brainstorming process ensures that everyone comes prepared to the meeting after going through a brief description of the problem and its challenges. During the session, the participants come up with their own ideas and they talk what they feel right about it. There is no right or wrong ideas. Everyone is encouraged to participate and interact.
Participants learn from others through mutual interaction. At the end of the session, a list of generated ideas is prepared. Idea selection and evaluation also provides opportunity for mutual interaction and learning and allows them to know how the ideas fit in together into the overall picture. Tasks and activities are assigned to the participants for idea execution.
Fish bowl debate: This is a unique method of learning and interaction where members are asked to sit in groups of three. Roles and topics are assigned. The person sitting on the left talks ‘for’ the topic and the person sitting on right talks ‘against’ the topic. The person sitting in the middle takes the side, which provides the convincing argument and justifies the choice by writing about it.
Case study approach: Usually participating members are divided into 3 or4 groups. Each group is given a case study and is asked to analyze the case study. They are given about 10-15 minutes and after that they are asked to share their analysis and answer questions from other groups.
Catchup method: It is quite straightforward in that after a certain point of time in the lecture, the individual members work in groups. They exchange their notes and ask clarifying questions among themselves. After some time the entire floor is open for questions.
While all the methods have their own merits and demerits , the facilitator needs to choose the right collaborative learning mode to suit the participating members and the organisation.