In this post, we will be looking at the benefits of online collaboration and how it can help you as a student. We will also be looking at the theories behind online learning and the features of a good collaboration tool. Online collaboration can help in improving creative thinking as well as increasing productivity levels of students. Thus, students are increasingly using these tools to improve their learning processes.
How does online collaboration help you as a student?
As a student, online collaboration can help you in the following ways:
- It can promote student performance
- It facilitates active learning
- It increases knowledge sharing
- It encourages social interaction
- It creates a positive and supportive environment
- It leads to healthy group discussions
- It allows better feedback
- It can make assessments more effective
As remote learning has become highly popular, many instructors and teachers are finding it increasingly challenging to adapt to this change. Online collaboration tools can help instructors bridge this gap. These tools have also been proven to increase academic performance as well as social skills. Online collaboration can benefit students greatly in the ways discussed below:
It can promote student performance
Many research studies have shown that online collaboration tools can improve academic performance in students. These tools also allow better knowledge sharing and knowledge retention, thus helping students learn concepts better and improve their grades.
It facilitates active learning
Through online collaboration, students have an active role in the learning process. Since many collaborative learning strategies require each individual student to learn a specific concept and then share it, students actively engage in the learning process. Students also learn from sources other than the classroom and the instructor, furthering their understanding of the concept.s
It increases knowledge sharing
Online collaboration also helps students share their knowledge with each other. Collaboration itself creates an environment of interdependency among the students. Hence, students are open to sharing their knowledge knowing fully they will receive the same in return. Online collaborations not only improve knowledge sharing but also allows better knowledge retention.
It encourages social interaction
Even though the students are not physically present in the classroom, they can still interact well with each other through online collaboration. These tools actually encourage more social interaction than the physical classroom setting. Online collaboration is also highly preferred by those students who are introverted or are socially challenged.
It creates a positive and supportive environment
Online collaboration helps in creating a positive and supportive environment among the students. This not only leads to better learning, but also promotes a spirit of family or brotherhood among the students. Thus, the students are encouraged to build health relationships with one another which can extend beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
It leads to healthy group discussions
Through the means of online collaboration, students can have constructive discussions with each other. These discussions are more productive on digital platforms as students have access to various knowledge sources. Hence, they can take their time to find the information, sort their thoughts and then post their ideas on the discussion board.
It allows better feedback
Instructors can receive better feedback from students through online platforms. On these platforms, students can maintain their anonymity and also are relieved of the pressure of physical confrontation. Thus, the feedback is honest and can be used to create better learning processes.
It can make assessments more effective
Collaborating online can also greatly affect student assessments. Through online collaboration, assessments can be made more student-friendly, keeping learning and knowledge as the primary focus. Online peer assessments are the most common form of assessments through these tools and are already being considered highly effective.
Theories of online learning
While developing online learning environments, instructors and educators use two main frameworks or theories:
Constructivism in which learning is a process
In this theoretical framework, learning is seen as a continual process. In this, the learner brings in new ideas constantly through various methods. These can be through discussions, research, e-learning, etc. This framework has the advantage of controllability by the learner.
Connectivism that combines cognitivism and constructivism
Connectivism, which is much newer than constructivism, brings in the best of cognitivism as well as constructivism. According to this framework, the learning environment constantly changes to which the learner has to adapt himself/herself. Connectivism, though effective in learning, cannot be controlled by the learner.
Features of a good collaboration tool
For effective online learning, instructors use many collaboration tools. A good collaboration tool for learning must have the following features:
It should promote interaction between the students
The collaboration tool used in the learning process should promote interaction between the students. The interaction should not only be increased in quantity but should also be highly meaningful. These tools should not only promote interactions during classroom hours but also outside of the classroom.
The tool should also allow communicating through various modes like instant messaging, voice-calling, video-calling or video-conferencing. It should also have features that support file-sharing and document sharing with other students.
It should increase student engagement
Online collaboration tools should allow positive engagement in the classroom. When students are engaged in the classroom setting, they are motivated to learn, they give more feedback and also interact positively with other students.
To increase student engagement, online collaboration tools should have personalization features which will allow students to customize the tool as per their liking and comfort. The tools should also allow sharing and learning through various methods like videos, drawing, presentations, etc.
It should help in individual learning
Even though collaborative learning promotes learning in a group setting, individual learning cannot be pushed back. Using the tools, students can be encouraged to respond with ideas and answers anonymously. They can also be motivated to learn other skills like interpersonal skills and communication skills. This promotes individual and autonomous learning.
In this post, we have seen the benefits of online collaboration and how it can help you as a student. We have also looked at the theories behind online learning and the features of a good collaboration tool that can be used inside and outside the classroom setting.
Frequently asked questions: (How does online collaboration help you as a student?)
How does collaborative learning help students?
Collaborative learning can be highly useful for students. It can allow students to develop critical thinking skills while also improving their creative thinking. Through collaborative learning, students can improve their interpersonal and communication skills. Research studies have shown that collaborative learning can greatly boost self-confidence and self-esteem in students.
How do you teach collaboration skills to students?
In order to encourage student collaboration in the classroom, instructors and educators can use several strategies. A few of them are explained below:
Select the group of students who will collaborate
In order to teach collaboration skills, the best way is to practice it. Select the right students to be a part of a group to learn collaboration skills. The right students should be those who are willing to collaborate with others and can make great team players.
Choose the right number of students in a group
The number of students in a group should not be too much or too little. If the number is too large, then all the students may not get to participate. If the number is too less, then there might be a repetition of ideas and diverse learning will not happen in the group. Thus, a group should not exceed 4-5 members in order to encourage both participation and creative thinking.
Set clear goals for the group
The group should have specific goals to be accomplished. This gives them a shared sense of purpose. The goal should be a smart one which means it should be specific and measurable. It should also be something that can be achieved in a time frame. While setting goals, there should be both shared and individual goals to be accomplished.
Lay down ground rules for the collaborative process
The collaborative process should have certain ground rules or values that all the members follow. This allows the work process to take place in a smooth and efficient manner. It also promotes solidarity and respect for all the members and their opinions.
Encourage students to listen to each other
The students in the group should be encouraged to listen to each other. They should also be trained to actively listen to each other. Active listening can allow better understanding of concepts as well as the avoidance of misunderstandings.
Foster a team identity
The team or the group should be encouraged to create their own identity, unique to themselves. This allows the classroom to become interesting which also promotes diversity. The team should be referred to more than the individual team members, furthering the cause of collaboration.
Promote healthy discussions and debates
Teams should also be encouraged to have healthy discussions between themselves and with other groups. When discussions are held in an environment of mutual trust and respect, they are productive and can promote learning. While having debates and discussions, students should be encouraged to respect and value diverse ideas and opinions.
Celebrate achievements as a group
When the goals are achieved, the group should be celebrated with focus on the team identity. When the team is celebrated as a unit, it leads to further collaboration between the team members. Individual accomplishments should also be recognized and acknowledged, all the while highlighting the team as a unit.
What are the disadvantages of collaborative learning?
When collaborative learning is not implemented in the right manner, it can have many disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are listed below:
- Not all individuals might be open to collaborative learning
- In large groups, not everyone can participate equally
- If not guided properly, one person can take over the group
- Introverted and socially challenged people might not participate at all
- When the workload is not distributed equally, some of the group can be pushed to do all or most of the work
- Since different people learn at different speeds, not all students might be on the same page all the time
What does collaboration look like in the classroom?
In a collaborative classroom, students work closely with each other for the purpose of learning different concepts. In these classrooms students are encouraged to think creatively and critically while also improving their social and interpersonal skills. Collaborative classrooms are becoming highly common as they promote the overall development of a student.
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