Great Ideas to Promote Collaboration among Students

Collaboration in education is an approach that involves a group of students learning together or working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product.

In old days, our education system followed a teacher-centric approach where an

 educator used to guide students the entire day with long lectures. Unlike traditional methods, nowadays, learning has become a social process that occurs through active engagement among a group of learners, either face-to-face or online.

“Learning has been re-conceptualized from an additive process characterized by an individual's acquisition of knowledge to a socially-enabled developmental process.”

Importance of Collaborative learning:

As learning is naturally a social act, collaboration is inevitable.

Students as a group acquire more knowledge than students individually.

Discussions and questions engage students more like never before.

In addition to the above mentioned points, there are many more reasons that strongly support the requirement of “Collaborative learning” or “Cooperative learning” in today’s education system.  Let’s learn about a few important benefits of Collaborative learning.

Benefits of Collaboration:

Collaboration improves interpersonal skills.

Collaborative learning enables students to share strengths and also develop and strengthen their weaker skills.

Groups tend to learn through “discussions, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas”.

It also involves active participation of students.

Collaborative learning enables students to share strengths and also develop and strengthen their weaker skills.


Collaboration provides more opportunities for personal feedback. 

Studies show that the students who work as a team attain higher level thinking and preserve information for a longer time than students working individually.

Educators’ views on Collaborative learning:

“Create a student-centered classroom by designing collaborative projects that encourage inquiry and foster student voice and choice.”- Sean Junkins, Digital Integration Specialist, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Teacher and STAR Discovery Educator.

“Today’s workers complete very few tasks alone and work isn’t confined to an office, it’s global. Technology facilitates teamwork in a way that was unimaginable for previous generations.”- Chrissy Winske, educator and Blogger at K12 Decisions.

“Any work force demands collaboration skills. Collaboration is one of the four 21st century work force skills identified between 1996 and 2001 in a report generated by number of resources. We must recognize the need that it’s not just one person’s contribution that leads to organizational success. No longer can one person doing one thing hold up success for any particular work or job or organization”- Joshua Koen, District Coordinator of technology.

How to build a strong collaborative learning (Recommended Suggestions & Practices from Educators):

Enable students to teach each other:

“If we make two students sit together, they will be quite frank with each other in a peer assessment, where teacher can’t always be there, they’ll discuss their works and assess each other by marking, advising and correcting.”- Karen Vear, an educator at Lord William’s School, Oxfordshire.

Especially educators who teach Math and English consider peer-to-peer teaching among their students very effective to build collaborative learning as these subjects demand more engagement by students.

Jane Ross, a grade 4 teacher in Indonesia, has shared her practices of teaching Math to her 9 year old students. She divides 1 hour of her class into 3 parts: in the first 20 minutes she teaches her class a concept, divides the class into groups (ability wise), the next 20 minutes is for collaborative learning and the remaining time is for independent practice. She believes that students need explicit teaching as much as collaboration to further practice new skills.   

Collaboration beyond classroom:

Collaborative learning not just includes groups of learners from a particular class or school working together; it can be between students from different departments, organizations and also geographical locations.

Why collaborate globally?

When students face different interpretations, explanations or answers about what they are studying, it forces them to “re-think” their own viewpoints. It now seems clear that incorporating network-based learning into the process of collaborative learning can be very beneficial in terms of knowledge and experience, with students working with a diverse student group whose interaction could make them re-formulate some of their ideas.

Educators and administrators can take the advantage of technology to enable their students collaborate globally. Let’s learn about the practices and tools educators suggest for global collaboration.

Wiki as a collaborative tool:

Vickie Davis, an influential EdTech author and an expert educator says that, she uses Wikis widely in her classroom and it is a fundamental innovative academic tool. I’d like to let you know how we can utilize Wikis for collaboration.

One active member from the group takes the plunge and creates a simple Wiki by uploading documents pertinent to the team's work.

Each team member receives detailed instructions for accessing the Wiki, editing documents, and uploading materials and resources. Team members need to be encouraged to check the Wiki on occasion, and use it to share documents and hold discussions.

Administrators or educators can take the advantage of free online tools to create Wikis. You may read our previous article to find some free Wiki tools.

The Wiki provides a platform for the team for holding conversations including sharing and editing documents, posting meeting agendas and minutes, schedules, progress reports, and group member contact information. Team members can visit the site to review progress, view earlier documents, and communicate with other team members.

Leaders continually track feedback from team members and troubleshoot any technical problems that arise to ensure that the group collaboration process runs smoothly.

Besides Wikis, educators can also utilize the power of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

Social Networks for collaboration:

Using social networks as platforms for collaboration is also called Social collaboration. Social collaboration differs from Social networking as it not just focuses on individuals sharing messages, resources and works with one another, but also on the identification of groups and collaboration spaces in which messages are explicitly directed at the group and the group activity feed is seen the same way by everyone.

The above mentioned are a few practices and suggestions to promote collaborative learning in 21st century education. We’d like have your views as well as your practices of implementing Collaboration among students. Please feel free to share with us in the comment box. 

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About the Author
Author: Santosh Bhaskar KWebsite:
Devotee of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Following his path of Creating Creative Education in India. Contributing my works in "India Vision 2020". Former EdTech Blogger/Researcher at ETR India

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