Collaborative learning is beneficial in a training program. Research has found that this type of training leads to deeper learning. It includes experiences that are engaging, active, and social.
What is collaborative learning? It is a general term that covers multiple ways to include joint intellectual efforts by trainees or trainees and instructors. Groups of two or more work together to find solutions or build a product. The type of activities varies significantly, but generally focus on the learner’s exploration of the course material.
In a traditional classroom, a teacher will lecture a class. Learners may take notes or ask questions, but there is little to no collaboration. A class that uses collaboration may still have some note-taking and lecturing, but it will include other processes that are based on learner discussion and active work.
When utilized effectively, collaborative learning will promote interactions, increase understanding of perspectives, and help prepare the student for real-life situations. Participants develop higher levels of self-management, oral communication, and leadership skills.
A solid LMS includes features that support collaborative learning. If you don’t have one already, now is the time to find a platform that offers group features, centralized resource libraries, and communication tools.
What should you avoid when incorporating collaborative learning into your training program?
Situations That Don’t Require All to Participate
Have you ever been required to participate in a group project at school, only to have one person or a few people do none of the work? It’s frustrating, especially if you have multiple people doing nothing in a group. You put in all the effort, and they get the same grade.
This can happen in an employee training situation. And it doesn’t always occur due to laziness. Some trainees may feel fear or insecurity. They worry that they don’t have the skills needed and don’t want to be found out by the group. Others may choose to default to someone else who knows how to do the task already, even though everyone is there to learn.
Other issues can also crop up like a lack of motivation or lack of understanding the instructions and training goals.
A good way to get everyone involved is by using interdependence. It’s the middle point between dependence and independence. Learners should have autonomy but also need to rely on one another. For example, if the group needs to come up with an idea, then have them participate in a brainstorming session. Each participant must listen to what is said and depend on the others for new ideas. Even those who are less knowledgeable can participate and help shape the project or results.
Not Providing Clear, Direct Communication to Groups
Communication is essential in all areas of business. It is especially important in collaborative learning.
A traditional training program with an instructor teaching a class doesn’t require as much freethinking and collaboration. While communication is important, trainees are guided from one subject to the next. In a collaborative environment, they may be left alone with their peers to work on a problem or come up with an idea. They must have clear guidelines and instructions if this is going to work.
Encourage questions and let the class see training goals. This can help them gain a better understanding of what they need to do and how it all fits into the bigger picture.
Allowing Groupthink with No Peer Feedback
Groupthink isn’t helpful in collaborative learning. The term refers to multiple people thinking or making decisions together in a way that discourages individual responsibility or creativity.
One of the benefits of collaboration is that it allows new ideas to flow freely. This can inspire innovation, better problem-solving skills, and a greater understanding of the material. Critical feedback is a part of collaboration. It helps identify problems with a proposed solution and pushes everyone to explore new concepts.
Working in an enclosed group all the time can nurture groupthink. To break the cycle, consider having at least one person from each group move to another group for a part of a project. This exposes them to new thoughts and ideas that they can bring back to their original group for discussion. You can also set up new groups for each new task, project, or discussion.
Telling Teams What Their Learning Priorities Should Be
Many companies take a top-down approach to learning. That means someone from higher on the corporate food chain will tell teams what they should be focusing on. This isn’t the best way to do things when it comes to employee training and continuous learning.
Teams should be allowed to take the reins and decide where their learning priorities fall. By putting those involved in the driver’s seat, you increase employee engagement. If you are trying to shift into a more liberated training program for your teams, do so gradually. A good approach is to show executive and upper management the level of knowledge-sharing and subject-matter expert engagement that can happen with collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning has many benefits. It works in any industry and for any training subject. Many LMSs offer features that support this approach and can even enhance it. This is especially important when training classes aren’t located in the same office or region. You can still gain the benefits of collaboration without having to bring everyone together in the same space.