Instructional Design Strategies for Collaborative Learning: 4 Approaches For Effective Collaboration

Posted on : September 20th, 2016
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Collaboration in learning is a good way to invite ideas and brainstorm but does not always meet learning objectives set out by the training team. One way to increase effectiveness and productivity of collaborative learning is by engaging learners in well- defined scripts. A collaborative script is, in essence, a set of guidelines for learners on how learners should form groups, how they should interact and collaborate and how they should solve problems to produce actual learning.

Instructional Design
Types of ID based Collaborative Approaches

• Question-Answer Approach: In the first approach, an instructional designer presents the learner group with a series of questions on a specific topic. Learners can answer them online through free text and each answer is studied by an instructor. Peers with two most conflicting answers are put together in a group and made to take the same quiz again. Groups collaborate to form answers and at the end of the activity, all answers are discussed to generate a final set of answers that make most sense to the entire group.

The design rationale of this script is to create conflicts among learners and instigate arguments to encourage closer interactions. Back and forth style of questioning succeeds in engaging learners and effectively produces learning through collaboration.

• Story-writing Approach: Instructional designer provides the first chapter of a story. Learners read this chapter and write the continuing second chapter of the story. All entries are read and learners vote for their favorite. The story then continues for a predefined set of chapters, till it reaches a mutually agreed end.

The role of an instructor in this script is restrained and learners are encouraged to interact more freely with each other. This approach works well when developing creative ideas or storyboards.

• Project-based Approach: This approach supports project-based learning through collaboration among different learner groups. Each project is segmented into phases and the learners are grouped into teams, who work on each phase. The intermediate product of each phase is shared in an online social space. The teams can look into each other’s work and take inspiration from it to move forward. While each team finally delivers its own final product, it is built through mutual inspiration and support.

The design rationale for this script is to utilize social space as a platform of continuing idea-seeding. This approach works well for a variety of different projects, as long as instructional designers clearly distinguish each phase for the learners along with clearly defined goals for each phase.

• Reciprocal Teaching Approach: This approach works on the concept of peer tutoring. A new learner and a peer subject expert are presented with the learning material. One reads the first paragraph and then the other questions him/her on the same. Instructional designers prepare these questions, along with the learning material. For the next paragraph, roles are reversed and this process is repeated till the end of the course.

While some may argue that this concept does not strictly lie in the realm of collaborative learning as the experience and knowledge of one learner exceeds the other, the coming together of peers for such an exercise is truly beneficial for both. While an inexperienced learner benefits from the knowledge of his peer, the experienced learner takes this opportunity to revise and revisit concepts to strengthen knowledge on the topic.

Such collaborative scripts can be developed using existing popular scripts to suit individual or organizational needs. The concept of a collaborative script does not seek to create a restrictive environment for group interactions. On the contrary, it works to gather most out of peer-interaction and can be extremely effective for corporate e-learning, where measurable benefits and productive learning are always commended.

Source: ‘Blending Collaborative Learning with Instructional Design’ by Pierre Dillenbourg

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

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