Collaborative and Active Learning

“Active learning focuses on how students learn, not just on what they learn.” (Getting started with Active Learning, Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team, 2020). It is a process where students are encouraged to actively participate in gaining deep understanding of a topic, rather than receiving information from the tutor only.

A central benefit of active learning is that it keeps the student engaged and motivated, reframing existing knowledge as they develop skills to address authentic new activities. This tends to increase enthusiasm for their studies, as well as helping them to retain the skills learnt for future use. It encourages students to ask questions and to approach material in a perceptive way in order to gain further understanding.

Collaboration is a vital part of active learning and can be facilitated through the VLE and other supported digital solutions, for example, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard.

Sharing and Co-Working on Documents

Microsoft Teams is a great tool to support collaboration and co-authoring. Adding a Word, PowerPoint or Excel file to teams means that its automatically enabled for working together with other users in real time on the same file. Students who cannot be in the same location at the same time can still work together on one word document, which will be useful during this time of hybrid learning. Every user sees who is editing each part of the document, with the Track Changes tool they are also able to see exactly what has been contributed by each person. For group work this could be important as you are able to see which students have contributed and which haven’t participated as much with the task.

You could also use Teams to share documents with your class with restricted editing facilities. For example, module guidebooks with fixed deadline dates that you don’t want students to modify, or a piece of collaborative work that has reached the deadline and you no longer want your students to be able to work on it. As the leader of the team you are able to turn collaboration on and off. Instructions on how to turn off collaboration can be found here:

Monitoring Discussion

With Teams you can create an area for each cohort/group by creating separate teams. You can also create private channels within the Team and give access to certain members of the group. This not only encourages your students to communicate and keep focus on the task at hand, but also means you can monitor the discussions and see who is participating more than others. Monitoring the discussion in this way also means that you can give quick feedback to ideas your students have, imitating the on-campus feedback they would receive in the classroom. This can be useful for working in a hybrid format, but also helps you to identify students who may require some further support.

There have been several different blog posts around effective and creative use of digital tools, which can be found below:

Video Calling

The video call function on Teams is a great way to host live sessions with your students. This gives students an opportunity to ask questions as the content is being discussed. You could encourage the use of video calling as a way of carrying out group work, or to give feedback on an individual basis or in a group. More information on hosting live sessions in Teams can be found here:

New Features

There are a range of new features that have been added or are due to be added into Teams. Further information on this can be found here:

If you would like any further support with collaboration on Teams, please contact

Collaborative Learning with Microsoft Teams

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