Collaborative learning is a great way of immersing students in academic work. It beats the traditional technique of teachers giving out paper handouts, for example. But, educators do not always succeed in making group work effectively. It is hard to, say, make all students engaged and accountable in such an activity. Yet using a few strategies (and aids), it easy to stimulate learners to collaborate better.
For example, teachers should make their students’ collaboration purposeful. Plus, the right choice of tools accelerates shared learning. Learners are tech-savvy nowadays. So things like Web 2.0 should be integral to how teachers equip their students for collaboration.
Here are the six ways teachers could encourage collaboration among students.
1. Grouping Students According to Ability
Teachers need to first ask themselves what they intend to achieve with grouping. Students with matching abilities work at a similar pace. By contrast, struggling students may gain from working with their gifted peers. These group types have varying impacts on the students’ willingness to collaborate. Take the above-average students working with others having the same ability, for example. Such grouping could make participants work fast in a bid to outdo each other. It stimulates competition and risk-taking. And that is desirable if the educator’s aim was to see how productive the gifted students can get.
But in a mixed-ability group, some students tend to slacken. The struggling ones may leave the capable ones to do all the work. It is thus important for educators to assign learners to groups where they perform best. Other than that, every student should be answerable whenever their group falters. This reduces the chances of some learners joyriding on the efforts of their peers.
2. Creating Clear Roles
Groups without clear roles for their members make for unproductive working environments. So, there should be a way to make learners account for their involvement. But it is important to not make the students feel like cogs in a machine. When the group succeeds, for instance, every member should get equal recognition.
In short, roles increase participation. Still, that does not mean that learners cannot help out where their peers struggle. Teachers should actually encourage students to lend others a hand where necessary. After all, that is what collaboration is all about.
3. Allowing Students to Choose Groups (Sometimes)
As with any other undertaking, monotony quickly turns to boredom. And nothing is as bad to learning as the loss of interest. Teachers should thus avoid being too rigid in how they assign students to groups. It is healthy to allow learners to choose the groups that they would want to belong to—sometimes. That helps to show them that the concept of collaborative learning can be fun.
4. Using Writing Tools
Writing tools are also pivotal to how students function in a group. Because group members record their work in some form of text, it is important for them to know how to do it the right way.
There are various ways that they can achieve this. The most common, of course, is using a word processing or spreadsheet app.
But it does not end there. According to the coursework, learners should present their work in a particular format. Yet most students find this arduous. In such cases, turning to leading academic services could be an attractive option. These help with research, editing, and formatting. They make students adept at writing. And such learners usually enjoy shared learning.
5. Using Project Management Apps
Project management software can make collaboration effective. People use these tools to enhance resource allocation, scheduling, and planning. Using these apps in the classroom achieves several things. First, it shows students how to incorporate technology in learning. Then, it helps them to track the work of every member of the group. These are important skills because they mirror real-world scenarios. Finally, they encourage learners to work together since they streamline collaboration.
6. Using Wikis
You cannot spur student participation in shared learning without considering Web 2.0. Today, that technology defines how people interact online. It forms the bulk of social media, for example.
But that aside, educators should revisit the collaborative power of wikis. These give users the chance to jointly create content. That in itself shows how powerful wikis can be as a platform for collaborative learning. They may encourage students to work in a group since they give members the control over content.
Collaborative learning is an excellent way of stimulating students to consume course content. But as this article has shown, it takes a bit of effort to make it effective. The choice of group members, for instance, has a notable impact on how learners remain engaged. Still, educators should explore the use of technology when designing shared learning. Besides, software aids boost collaborative efforts in real-world scenarios. It is about time that they make their way into the classroom too.
Author Bio: Carol is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling. She takes immense pleasure of visiting new countries.