Many institutions prepare for another round of distance education at the beginning of every semester. While most instructors can adapt from in-person classes to remote learning, the process is complex. They stuff courses with passive learning activities. Consequently, most students who initially chose a more active learning environment in person get bored. They find it too easy to disconnect, get lonely, disengage, and tune out of the Zoom lectures that got them through the previous semester.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to this. As an instructor, you can adopt dynamic, collaborative learning strategies to engage students and tune back into the material and each other. Studies show online collaborative learning improves academic performance, knowledge retention, and interpersonal skills. So, in this post, you’ll learn five of the best collaborative learning strategies that online learners can quickly adapt to or enhance.
Table of Contents
Language learners, in particular, benefit from peer review as they see how others approach language and writing. However, to ensure effectiveness, it’s essential to establish clear guidelines and expectations. One key consideration is to provide constructive and helpful feedback. Encourage students to offer suggestions for improvement and avoid personal attacks or negative comments. Reminding students to focus on content, not just grammar and mechanics, is also critical.
For instance, asking students to comment on their peers’ clarity and accuracy is an excellent way to promote constructive feedback. A peer review process through a peer review tool is ideal for language learners to improve the quality of their writing skills because it allows them to receive feedback from their peers. Establishing clear guidelines for students and encouraging constructive feedback is crucial. Additionally, students should focus on content rather than grammar and mechanics.
Jigsaw techniques teach others how to process and retain information. With the Jigsaw method, students learn only a tiny piece of material and lead it to the entire group. Later, the group synthesizes the information and creates a presentation based on their learning. Jigsaws are most effective in groups of five or six students and on complex topics. You can divide the lesson or required reading into five or six sections. Students research one part of the book.
Having one student research societal views of healthcare might be a good idea. Another might research a country’s overall health and demographics, another research healthcare system, and another student research the economic impacts of those policies. Having completed the study, bring the students together for a small discussion board or private video meeting. It will enable them to share their findings and better understand the concept. Use an essay, project, or presentation to assess whether the group understands all the materials.
Working or learning in a collaborative environment requires diversity. Research proves that diverse classrooms lead to better learning. Varied environments bring together people from various (often conflicting) backgrounds and allow them to interact without prejudice or bias. Placing people in such environments exposes them to different perspectives they may not otherwise encounter.
Additionally, people respect others by sharing and understanding their opinions. Therefore, it would be best to emphasize diversity during student onboarding as an online course instructor. There must not be a tokenistic approach to diversity. Instead, it’s more about inclusivity and mutual respect than numbers.
Daily Discussion Questions
Online discussion boards enhance learning for everyone while facilitating student engagement. You can post daily or weekly discussion questions to get students thinking about course materials differently. For instance, you might ask students to discuss an ethical dilemma in the reading material or reflect on a real-world example related to the discussed topic.
Online discussions are only active and exciting when discussion questions are open-ended and promote divergent thinking. Provide students with the opportunity to analyze sources, provide opinions, and even ignite debate. Moreover, it’s critical to remember that a successful discussion requires you to hear all voices, regardless of their background or beliefs. Through team-based activities, students can effectively foster an environment of open dialogue, allowing them to explore different perspectives and create constructive conversations.
The 3-2-1 is a quick reflective activity that helps students analyze course content, reflect on their experiences, and identify problems. It allows teachers to measure how well students understand the learning materials. Three simple rules govern the technique.
A student who uses this technique identifies the following:
- three things they learned,
- then two things they found interesting, and finally,
- one question they still have.
For example, they might mention three things: they found three fascinating things in the history subject fascinating, two intriguing scientific theories involved, and one practical application they’d love to know more about.
Students who struggle to stay engaged in online courses can benefit from collaborative learning strategies. Taking online courses can be tedious, and without the support and interaction of classmates, it can become isolating and demotivating. These collaborative strategies, however, can help teachers create a more dynamic and engaging learning experience for their students.