When you think of ‘education’, what image springs to mind? Students, sat silently in rows, listening to a lecturer at the front, or perhaps with their heads buried in a book, beavering away independently?
It’s a classic picture of pedagogy – and one that is no longer relevant.
In 21st century classrooms, collaboration is key. It adds much-needed variety to the traditional, lecture-based style of learning. Moreover, it opens channels of communication and cooperation between students and teachers, creating a culture that values every student’s strengths, and an environment in which everyone is encouraged to learn from each other.
If you are yet to introduce collaborative learning to your classroom, here are four ways in which it enhances education for all:
1. Shared knowledge
Traditional teachers follow one dominant model: a knowledge flow from pedagogue to pupil. However, collaborative teachers turn this on its head. They invite the students to bring their own strategies and experiences to the learning situation, creating a classroom which uses a language and ethos the learners best respond to. This does not undermine or supersede the vital knowledge the teacher has to impart, but it helps them engage and instruct their class in the most inclusive and empowering way. As a result, multiple perspectives and multiple potential solutions are offered by a class who are enriched by the experiences and knowledge around them.
2. Shared responsibility
In a traditional teaching environment, the educator is largely – if not wholly – responsible for the methods of learning and the methods of assessment. By contrast, in a collaborative classroom, teachers invite their students to help set specific goals within the context of what is being taught. This helps provide a framework in which to engage all students and draw on all experiences, rather than simply playing into the hands of the pool of pupils who have the maturity and self-motivation to learn independently. By allowing students to take ownership of their education, they begin to understand that learning is for life, not simply school.
3. Shared facilitation
In a collaborative classroom, the teacher helps the students connect new knowledge to their own experiences, and figure out what to do when they are stuck. Teachers are encouraged to work with their pupils in order to create an environment which best facilitates opportunities for collaborative work and problem-based learning. This might include the rules the class deems appropriate for shared discussions – for example, valuing each other’s comments and arguing for/against ideas, rather than individuals. It may also include the set-up of the physical space – arranging the classroom so that all the students can see each other, and/or moving the teacher’s desk away from the front of the room to a less prominent space, for instance.
4. Shared opportunities
Although students are traditionally streamed according to their ability, collaborative learning promotes inclusion as an essential ingredient for all. Life beyond the classroom requires an understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives, and so a collaborative classroom is one in which students are taught that everyone deserves the opportunity to make a contribution, and that every contribution is valuable. This in turn enriches the learning experience across the board, ensuring both the brightest pupils and the less able are able to share the perspectives, experiences and contexts that will improve the opportunities for all.
If you are an educator looking for a more enterprising way of engaging your students, Crowdfund Campus can help! Our simulated Sandpit and our live crowdfunding marketplace are both excellent collaborative platforms through which to nurture teamwork, creative problem-solving skills, and practice-based peer learning. Contact us today for further details (and to book a free demonstration).