What is Collaborative Learning?

Collaborative learning involves two or more people learning together, allowing them to capitalise on one another’s resources and skills.

Why is collaborative learning important?

Students working collaboratively are more able to work interdependently towards shared goals, persist and succeed with their study and develop higher-order capabilities such as:

  • critically evaluating and negotiating competing ideas & perspectives
  • learning from feedback
  • demonstrating reciprocity, respect, empathy & understanding of others
  • seeking & giving help

Engaging in collaboration by learning, problem solving and interacting respectfully via social media is an essential component of students’ current and future lives.

What support do students need?

Collaborative learning is most effective when a class culture is created that values co-creation of knowledge and social learning. Ways to develop your class culture include:

  • Using icebreaker and team building activities that build a sense of belonging and trust
  • Providing students with short activities where they create and share a small digital artefact (e.g. image, infographic, video, audio) which represents their learning for discussion/peer feedback
  • Building an online ‘brain’s trust’ culture where students are encouraged to ask and answer their own questions
  • Using Eric Mazur’s peer instruction technique

Students undertaking team/group assignments need a range of support including:

Examples of practice

Examples of collaborative learning strategies include:

  • Students consulting with one another to answer/pose a question
  • Students consulting with one another to solve a problem
  • Students cooperating to prepare/construct a presentation/product (e.g. seminar, video, audio, image, report, role-play, poster, infographic, concept map, artefact, performance)
  • Students engaging in peer feedback
  • Students engaging in peer teaching/mentoring
  • Students interacting via social media & discussion forums
  • Students undertaking a team assignment
  • Students working with an industry/client/community group to complete a real-world project
  • Students interacting/consulting with professionals/experts via their professional learning network

What digital tools can be leveraged?

Digital tools to support collaborative learning include:

  • Online community tools (e.g. Teams <insert link>, Yammer, Blackboard discussion forums, Blackboard Collaborate)
  • Office 365 (e.g. using Word to write collaboratively and provide feedback)
  • OneNote <insert link>
  • VoiceThread <insert link>
  • Social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Padlet

Where could I learn more?

Here are some colleagues explaining the ways they involve students in collaborative learning:

Here are some resources to explore: