How Collective Education Making a Wave in School Curriculum

Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-Founder & CEO, Next Education India Headquartered in Hyderabad, Next Education is an education management company offering solutions that make teaching easy, engaging and effective, and also specializes mainly in the areas of Digital Learning, Audio-Visual Lessons, Interactive E-Learning, Hands on Learning, Simulative Learning.

Learning, as a social cognition, implies a shift in focus from isolated learning to a shared way of learning where knowledge is co-constructed and shared in a group. An individual can contribute to the already-constructed social knowledge, and in turn, thrive on it to meet personal goals only when they understand that their goals are not antagonistic to the larger social goals, and in fact, can be furthered and enhanced through collaboration and engagement. To realize this, their learning processes and outcomes need to be attuned to a collaborative learning approach.

What is Collaborative Learning?
When more than two individuals come together to attain learning individually and as a group, and complete a task at hand, the approach is called collaborative learning. Besides acquiring skills, attitudes and knowledge, it can help students improve their interpersonal skills.

The stakeholders bank upon each other's expertise and resourcefulness to complete the task. There is a joint ownership of responsibilities and failures, if any. It is often erroneously assumed that learners lose their ability to work independently if they work as a group. However, true collaborative learning actually boosts students’ confidence and gives them an opportunity to evaluate each other’s work, and thus, enhance the quality and quantity of output.

An Effective Collaborative Classroom
The role of a teacher is paramount in effecting a collaborative classroom;
suggested teaching plans could prove to be of some help with regard to this.

Present Challenging Tasks: In comparison to homework and other classroom tasks, collaborative activities could be more difficult and challenging. This could unite the group, however, when they take it upon themselves to strive hard and perform.

Define Learning Outcomes: To prevent collaborative activities from becoming too unorganized, yielding no positive results, a teacher should decide upon the learning outcomes from the exercise in advance. For instance, if a group is performing tests for acids and bases, students should note down their findings clearly.

Overlook Interactions: Dynamics within a group could become negative. If a teacher is not careful,a student could get bullied or feel left out. Teachers should devise the role of each student in such a way that each has a well-defined role to play.

Collaborative learning, if successfully implemented, could fulfill the true purpose of education - nurturing responsible citizens

The Benefits of Collaborative Learning are many –
New Perspective: A group could comprise culturally and socially diverse students. Interaction with different individuals could open up the world to learners as they learn to consider and ponder upon their peers’ perspectives. They could also reflect upon their own values, as against those of others in the group. This would help them gain tolerance for different ideas.

Development of New Skills: Working in a group could help students gain critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, among others. They could learn to critically analyse their ideas before presenting them. When a task is at hand, they, as a group, could focus on fulfilling it successfully.

Confidence & Communication: Owning up the task at hand and completing it successfully could boost students’ confidence. Pitching their ideas to peers and presenting them to the teacher could also improve students’ communication skills.

Collaborative learning aims to make students bank upon the collective resources of the student community and instill a sense of independence and empowerment, besides valuing their neighbor as an important resource. Collaborative learning, if successfully implemented, could fulfill the true purpose of education - nurturing responsible citizens who collaborate with their fellow citizens to address social, economic and other such concerns.