Friday, January 04, 2013

Trends in Collaborative Education/Learning

Thanks to Ferina Santos - @ferinasantos - for sharing this excellent article on trends in Education. I think it is a wonderful overview of what the future of education is going to be like. No prizes for guessing that the emphasis is on collective and collaborative learning techniques and mechanisms! 

Read the full article here: The author is: Miriam Clifford - @miriamoclifford on Twitter 

Here are some excerpts that appealed to my mind:


Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas”.  Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long term memory.  Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone.  Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups. 
Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills.  Experts have argued that the social and psychological effect on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself. 


The quality of discussions is a predictor of the achievement of the group.  Instructors should provide a model of how a successful group functions.  Shared leadership is best.  Students should work together on the task and maintenance functions of a group.  Roles are important in group development. Task functions include:

  • Initiating Discussions
  • Clarifying points
  • Summarizing
  • Challenging assumptions/devil’s advocate
  • Providing or researching information
  • Reaching a consensus.

Maintenance involves the harmony and emotional well-being of a group.  Maintenance includes roles such as:
  • Sensing group feelings
  • Harmonizing
  • Compromising and encouraging
  • Time-keeping
  • Relieving tension
  • Bringing people into discussion
Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations.  Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions

The article winds up by reminding us about the criticisms of collaboration (it may not allow for individual thinking) and asks us to beware of group-think (groups may end up going by the views of a few confident and dominant people and may not really reach a consensus) 

I am passionate about how we can reinvent education and learning methods so children are more engaged, excited and enthusiastic to be life-long learners. Of course, the other dimension is that they must be able to apply what they learn in their lives and, furthermore, use it to determine what their lives must be like (find their passion and gift and share it with the world.) I hope we are on the verge of a revolution! :-)


Sreejith Thampi said...


I was just reading a paper on Team Learning Behavior by Cristina Gibson and Freek Vermeulen, which speaks about team composition and design for better learning outcomes.

People need not necessarily apply all what they learn. Learning can be for the sake of learning too. 'Eureka's can happen while learning totally (seemingly) unrelated subjects. Rightly said, engagement is the key.

Ha! the pleasure of learning.

Nimmy said...


True...I was hooked to the concept of knowledge for the sake of knowledge too...but somewhere down the line, I think I got hijacked by the concept of application rather than knowledge that goes unused... :-P

But I get the point....we may see the interconnections between various not-so-immediately-applicable pieces of knowledge and invent something new! :)