Collaborative learning in the digital era


Since quite a few years India has been adopting digital modes in every operation from connectivity, to transactions, to production, to education. And with the outbreak of a life threatening pandemic, digital operations saw a sharp rise making the current circumstances an absolute digital era, especially in the education landscape. 
To stay with the trend, it was thus mandatory for all stakeholders, most importantly students and teachers to blend in the digital space and explore ways to learn in a collaborative manner. Earlier, this type of learning was considered suitable only for in-person participation, but with the technological disruptions, this prejudice has changed. In fact, a learner has no boundaries to explore and gets an opportunity to interact with a mix of people, both national and international.

Today’s youth looks for a fresh and out-of-the-box perspective in any new concept they learn. Given a chance to collaborate with peers across the world, the new-age learners will utilize the resources to gain optimum knowledge from wherever possible. The students are keen to learn new aspects like history, uses, scope, etc. of something as simple as ‘ABC’. Besides, when two or more enthusiasts come together to exchange information and learn from different backgrounds, the seeker’s scope of broadening perspective towards the subject widens.

This instructional method of collaborative and cooperative learning enhances the students’ communication and soft skills in addition to academic excellence. 

One must strategically execute the teamwork to ensure best results out of the project. 

Firstly, the group should analyze and lay down the subject of discussion to allow the members to prepare a set of points before formally initiating the activity. Secondly, there should be equal participation and simultaneous interaction between all students. Furthermore, the participants should take complete accountability of the points put forward, but with positive interdependence even if pairing is done with like-minded individuals.

The students should shrewdly research about the subject matter and share essential takeaways from the study which shall be beneficial to the peers. 

Besides, in this e-learning set-up, the members should not just focus on group discussions and age-old feedback and assessment techniques. The learners should also utilize different communication tools for content development, experimentation, creative skills, management and see to it that an individual gets a hands-on learning experience even in the digital mode. This becomes more convenient with technologies like AR/ VR as the students can engage on a personal level and make the process more interactive and immersive. 

Additionally, with the go-ahead of the teacher/s the students can also use fun activities or games that stimulate problem solving skills.

Teachers can also share their feedback and act upon students’ activities on a real time basis with the help of digital learning platforms and their features that are capable of expanding the network with every bug fixed and update released. 

This also allows teachers to work on their core competencies and upgrade their theories via constructive views of the students and better connections through the framework.

Truly, collaborative learning is bridging cultural and informational gaps between countries via blended and trendy projects with a 360-degree perspective. It also fosters individuals to be more empathetic and develops social-emotional skills which teaches them to create a balance in personal and professional lives in the future.

(Author Niranjan Hiranandani is Provost of HSNC (Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate) University. The cluster University constitutes of Mumbai’s three colleges – KC College, HR College and Bombay Teacher’s Training College (BTTC). Views expressed here are personal.)

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