Learners can be a valuable source of support and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the learning table. Learners can exchange information and insights for the benefit of their peers, which gives everyone the opportunity to broaden their knowledge base and refresh their skills. For example, a successful business owner undertaking a business course might be an excellent source of knowledge and expertise within a collaborative group-based scenario or project. This is also an excellent opportunity to blend collaborative learning with experiential and active learning to bring a topic or subject alive.
You can read more about how to build an active collaborative digital space for deeper meaningful learning here: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/07/14/how-to-build-an-active-collaborative-digital-space/ and there are some excellent tips on adopting an active learning methodology to motivate and keep learners engaged on the Principles of Course Design for Hybrid Learning Toolkit – Part 4: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/07/06/principles-of-course-design-4-designing-collaboration-and-construction/
These are some of the ways that you can tap into the power of collaborative learning support:
Start a topic-centred online discussion
Starting a topic-centred discussion is a great way to tap into a knowledge base of learners, where free discussion can take place. You can facilitate the initial discussion by posing a question for the group, and asking if any of the learners have experience within the specific topic of discussion. This will also serve as an ice-breaker and initial start point.
Create a learner-driven online FAQ
You can set up an online FAQ that is fuelled by learner participation. Start with a basic list of answers and questions, then invite your learners to submit their own. They can even post a pressing question and ask their peers to provide viable answers. The caveat is that you must have a moderator to keep the list free of clutter or questionable content. For example, learners may post redundant questions or incorrect information that might cause confusion, so managing this process from an instructor point of view is important to the success of an online FAQ.
Invite learners to guest-host a live online training event
You may identify learners who excel in a particular subject or topic, and who might be willing to host their own live online event. It gives them a chance to show off their knowledge and offer collaborative learning support at the same time. To facilitate this, invites could be sent out beforehand and include a brief about the host’s background and what’s in store for attendees. For example, the speaker could talk about developing key competencies within a job role, and discuss professionalism and learning from experience. You could also encourage them to create an outline and complementary activities that suit the subject matter as well as a group or. It would be a good idea to assist them by offering access to resources to help the plan the live event session such as online training tutorials or guides on public speaking and how to use video conferencing tools. You can read more about hosting live events using Teams here: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/06/02/teams-live-events-did-you-know/
Develop a mentorship program
A mentorship programme allows learners to share their knowledge and are an excellent example of collaborative learning support. To establish strengths and knowledge, you can survey your learners to get a feel of their area of expertise. Think-pair-share (TPS) exercises can take place to hone those skills and abilities as a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question about an assigned reading. Mentors can also step into the role of the mentee by teaming up with another peer who possesses other strengths, which enables them to focus on their areas for improvement. As such, no one ever feels like they are in a subordinate position or being judged due to their lack of knowledge given that everybody’s in the same proverbial boat and is part of the information exchange.
Create a learner-generated online training library
You can encourage learners to develop their online learning materials as an addition to your resources. You can use Blackboard to set up a folder, and you may want to lay a solid foundation by posting specific categories. Then learners can decide if they bring anything unique to the table based on the skill, task, or concept-based sections. For example, a learner might be experienced in business to business marketing or writing marketing strategies. This experience and any useful resources can be shared with the group as part of a library of resources.
Encourage in-house experts to start a learning Blog
There may be several learners who have unique expertise and skills that can benefit their peers. Figuring out how to tap into their experience and encouraging them to share that knowledge is key. Blogs are a fantastic way for these learners to share their knowledge by creating their own blog. It can be something as simple as quick tip sheets to help peers improve task proficiency or mini troubleshooting guides that focus on a relatable problem or challenge. You can also bookmark the blogs and pin them to Blackboard to make access easier.
Peer-based collaborative learning support allows learners to share their unique experiences and see things from a new perspective. It also helps to deepen and enrich the learning experience, namely, learner knowledge, skills and wisdom that they can impart to their peers.
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