Roma’s team is big on team building and measuring performance. They go out of their way to keep their members engaged in some form of peer-to-peer activity or divide them into groups.
What they don’t pay attention to is whether the activity is collaborative. Even though the team members are working together to achieve certain goals, they’re more focused on how they can benefit individually. This defeats the purpose of fostering teamwork. You have to work with others keeping your organization’s best interests in mind. For this, a strategy like collaborative learning is the most effective.
Let’s explore the meaning and examples of collaborative learning, and the different methods and types that you can adopt to improve your team’s performance at work.
What Is Collaborative Learning?
The meaning of collaborative learning is learning through a method where cohorts are divided into small groups that study, analyze and break down a concept. Think of it as a group project where you have to present in front of the class. This encourages well-rounded learning, improved problem-solving skills and effective communication.
Collaborative learning is just as relevant in a professional setting as it is in an academic scenario. It deals with pushing individuals to work with others, understand different perspectives and brainstorm to come up with solutions to a problem or understand a concept.
Here are some features of collaborative learning:
Encourages complete understanding of a subject as learners try to defend their position, answer each other’s questions and come up with solutions on their own
The group is responsible for their own share of work as there’s no one to oversee their actions
Individuals make a focused effort to understand the problem or the concept to successfully learn what it contains
Learners are able to retain information for longer as they make an effort to dig deep and gain comprehensive knowledge on a subject
It’s an effective team-building activity to encourage teams to collaborate on short-term and long-term projects without requiring much supervision
Collaborative learning is often confused with cooperative learning. But the latter is a type of collaborative learning. The difference is that in cooperative learning, the tasks are predefined and supervised while in collaborative learning, groups are responsible for everyone’s understanding but the roles and tasks are self-directed.
Collaborative Learning Strategies
The purpose of collaborative learning is to help you feel like a part of the team. When you have a sense of belonging, you’ll likely make more of an effort to participate. There are many collaborative learning strategies observed in an organization, some are:
Growth And Development
Focusing on your growth and development will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. We have certain areas we’d like to improve, like communication, creative thinking or interpersonal skills. With collaborative learning, you have the chance to address those areas that need improvement. This can be done through on-the-job training or you can request to be assigned a project where you can refine particular skills. It’s an effective strategy to be self-motivated to learn and grow within your organization. You’ll be more inclined to stick around for the long haul.
Lifelong learning is slowly being recognized for what it has to offer. Even when you have a full-time job, there’s scope for improvement or upskilling. You can learn on the job, off-the-job or online. Embracing lifelong learning will help you keep an open mind at work, become a better team player and accept opposing views more positively. Learning is a continuous process and you have to identify what it is you wish to improve. In a professional setting, enhancing your skills that are job-specific will help you climb the corporate ladder and be your best professional self.
One of the most effective skills in the modern workplace is critical thinking. It’s the ability to think through a problem or a situation using existing and new knowledge. There’s no room for personal bias or prejudice in critical thinking. Instead, it deals with taking an objective view of the situation and making informed decisions. It helps to think critically when you’re in a team. You can seek your teammate’s help where needed to come up with viable solutions together. Collaborative learning encourages you to think critically about a problem to be able to share it with others. The more you understand, the better you’re able to explain it to your team.
Goal-Setting And Performance
Collaborative learning helps you align your goals with the organization. Working in a team has its challenges, but at the end of the day, you have to work together to make sure organizational goals are met. This requires equal contribution, collaboration and connection with your team within the context of your workplace. This directly impacts your performance so you have to set and achieve goals that work, not just for you, but others as well. Individual performance is hard to measure in a professional setting. You should approach it more holistically to account for organizational objectives and performance.
There may be conflicts or problems in a team but with collaborative learning, you’ll learn how to come up with solutions with others. If you come across a problem that may possibly hamper your team’s performance, you can work together to find solutions. This is a great way to build teamwork because everyone is equally invested in figuring out what needs to be done. An overall strategy to address the issue takes into account different perspectives and ways to approach the problem. This way you’ll land at the best solution after filtering out possible alternatives.
There are several examples of collaborative learning in the workplace such as piloting a project, brainstorming sessions and solving case studies to improve your business acumen. Each of these activities helps you get along with your coworkers, build rapport and support one another.
Benefits Of A Collaborative Learning Method
Collaborative learning methods help you become a well-rounded employee who can contribute to your organization’s success. In an organization, the most important thing is to keep employees motivated and driven to perform well. The best way is to make employees feel valued and acknowledged for their effort.
Here are some advantages of collaborative learning:
When you’re collaborating with others, you learn to speak to them and articulate your thoughts and ideas. This is done to make sure you get your point across without spending too much time. In turn, you learn to listen actively when others are talking. You may have to present your ideas in a meeting or a catch-up. You have to listen well to understand your audience’s questions at the end of the presentation. Collaboration leads to enhanced communication skills because you’re no longer working alone, you have to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Helps Simplify Complex Problems
Breaking down complex problems into simple, manageable chunks is easier in a collaborative environment. If tasks are interdependent, you can seek help and work with your teammates to come up with viable solutions. The best way is to divide tasks and bring them together once you have solutions. This way you can each work on your chunk and explain it well to other teammates.
Opens Up Feedback Channels
Building on effective communication, collaboration helps you establish a feedback channel with your teammates. You’re more open to listen to what others have to say about you and tell them what you feel can be improved. It encourages you to accept criticism positively and help one another grow within your team.
Encourages Objective Thinking
It’s important to take an objective stance when it comes to conflicts or certain high-stakes situations. You can’t let your emotions guide you because it can lead to misinformed decision-making. Working in collaboration with others teaches you to step back from the table and understand the problem at its source. This helps you make decisions based on facts and sound assumptions.
The most important benefit of collaborative learning is self-development. Skill development, understanding others and managing different work styles and perspectives help you become the best version of yourself. You have to accommodate differences in a way that works for everyone. This encourages you to improve both personally and professionally to build that resilience.
The definition of collaborative learning highlights teamwork and cooperation. Working with others is something you have to do in a professional setting—even if you have your own business. Learning together opens doors for you to improve your relationships and achieve your goals collectively.
Harappa’s Managing Teamwork course will teach you how you can collaborate with your team, learn from one another and understand multiple perspectives. If you want to be a reliable team player, you must try to navigate conflicts, understand your teammates and lead them to success. At the heart of it is emotional intelligence that enables you to make room for everyone at your table. The Social Styles Model and the Bruce Tuckman Model will teach you how to form and build effective teams. Enroll today to understand the basics of team building and why it’s important in the modern workplace!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the COLLABORATE habit such as What is Teamwork, Delegation of Authority, The Difference Between Leadership and Management, the Importance of Strategic Management & Functions of Management to improve your managerial skills.
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