The essence of collaboration in student learning

The essence of collaboration in student learning

In our ever-evolving world, the ability to develop creative and critical thinking skills is becoming more desirable than any other skill or knowledge. We want our students to be innovators, problem solvers, and decision-makers. And to aid them, we always look for new ways to teach and learn.

This false perception that, in an intensely technological world, there is no scope for students to expand their creativity has curbed our minds and restricted our creative thought process.

One way to unleash this potential is to focus on the need for collaboration. When students collaborate they are exposed to new possibilities and these interactions serve as catalysts, inspiring them to work on self-expression and build on their knowledge bank.

Collaborative tasks stimulate young minds and foster respect as they rely on one another to share their knowledge and skills. Learners need to communicate with each other in order to complete a task and/or arrive at a consensus by ensuring the equal participation of all the members in the group.

Collaboration is an essential skill in life

Intercultural collaborations take the project further as students get a chance to interact with peers from across the globe. Time and again, I have watched how captivated they are when they listen to students from another part of the world share their understanding of a common topic and in turn their enthusiasm to share the information that they have gathered.

Working collaboratively allows students to connect with their audience in unique and interesting ways. When ideas take shape in the minds of the learners, they are most passionate about ensuring that they are brought to fruition. They realise that there can be several approaches and perspectives to a topic and this broadens their spectrum.

However, this is easier said than done. Students have to work on their communication, presentation and self-management skills to work together and solve the challenges that come along their way. They learn to ask questions to clarify their doubts and critically evaluate each other’s ideas. Students take pride in their work and there is a sense of achievement at the culmination of the collaboration project.

During the 1960s, Edgar Dale (an educator) theorized that learners retain more information by what they do, as opposed to what is heard, read or observed. His cone of experience talks about “learning by doing” and this has come to be known as “experiential learning”. As professionals, we should incorporate this wisdom into our learning engagements as we plan for collaborative projects.

Collaboration is a powerful tool that enhances confidence and strengthens social skills. In short, collaboration is a critical skill for life.

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