In today’s world of technology more and more training and assessment is being delivered online or via distance delivery. In the classroom environment collaborative learning occurs almost without the Trainer and Assessor planning it. Students often form small groups where they end up working together to solve the answer to a problem. There is a well-known saying “two heads are better than one”, so, how can this be achieved with online and distance learning? I was recently discussing this with my team of TAE Trainers and Assessors and some well-known VET practitioners training and assessing TAE. Here is what they say:
this is one way to collaborate with a group of learners. Up-front, ask your learners for permission to share their email address with their fellow learners. Once permission is gained you can then include them in the group email. Help your students understand the importance of collaboration and how it will benefit them with their learning.
I recently asked a group of TAE students who were using WhatsApp for group collaboration and here is what they said. “I found WhatsApp a very easy way to stay connected. It was a very time effective tool as we could ask questions and we would receive an immediate answer from a fellow student or from our facilitator”. I thought WhatsApp was great … quick and easy to use – usually someone answered quickly and then you could move on. We were all very grateful when our questions were answered promptly as we all received the clarity we needed. I found WhatsApp easy to access. Quite often a question was asked and answered before I even knew I would need to know it. I think sharing our concerns and questions helped us become a strong, supportive group”. This is what a facilitator shared during my analysis of WhatsApp as a collaboration tool. “I loved the fact that WhatsApp was a very quick and easy way to check on the students’ progress – to see where they needed help. It was rewarding to see how the students helped each other – I really only needed to step in if the students needed to be pointed in the right direction”.
I have found that Blogs work as a scheduled learning activity and students participate very well. Using a Blog for collaboration has also proven to be successful but only if the Trainer visits on a regular basis to answer questions posed by the students.
Please share what has worked well for you as a collaboration tool for online or distance students.