Collaborative learning is a method in which two or more learners together explore a topic and create a meaningful discussion through which they learn something new. Here, the learning process depends on contribution of learners to the discussion. Typically in the classroom training session, interaction among the learners and between the instructor and learners paves the way for creating a collaborative learning environment.
In an online learning platform, for the learners going through a self-paced eLearning module on an LMS, such a sort of collaborative learning experience can be created using online collaborative tools. One such online collaboration tool is the discussion forum tool.
The Discussion forum tool facilitates online communication among the learners. The learners may start the discussion based on different topics. When a query is posted in a discussion forum, learners try to answer the question with their understanding of the concept. Trainers monitor such discussions and guide them effectively to answer that query. Such a virtual learning environment has the following advantages:
- Allows learners to reflect their opinions on the queries raised by fellow learners. This exchange of thoughts helps learners to get a better understanding of the course.
- Enables learners to think critically about related issues raised in discussions.
- Engages constructive discussions among learners with different questions having a variety of responses. These discussions can be monitored and guided by the trainer.
- Exchange of thoughts among learners will receive more personal feedback. Such a type of feedback is difficult even in ILT training sessions.
Other collaborative tools like blogs, discussion forums, podcast, social media, offline messaging, email communications, sharing resources and collaborative assignment tool can be used based on the requirement.
These collaborative tools may not be costly or, maybe they are already available on your training platforms such as in the Learning Management System (LMS). Most of the LMSs will have these Web 2.0 tools for collaborative learning.
To use such collaborative learning tools for training, it is important that proper training on tools and motivation is given to your learners. Moreover, these tools should be very user-friendly and learners should be provided with good technical support. You may adopt customization methods, if required. Any technical difficulty may frustrate the learner and he or she may lose interest in collaborative learning.