What is it collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is where students learn through interactions, active learning, knowledge building, and team work (Liao, Huang, Chen, & Huang, 2015). Collaboration is an effective way to promote learning (e.g. Judd, Kennedy & Cropper, 2010; Kolloffel, Eysink, & de Jong, 2011). Meta-analyses have shown that collaborative learning can be an effective strategy for promoting retention and problem solving (e.g., Lou et al. 2001; Roseth et al. 2008; Slavin 1980; Springer et al. 1999). Social psychology has found that, when students work together on a group task, social cohesion is built (O’Donnell and O’Kelly 1994). This social cohesion can strengthen the students’ willingness to help one another and contribute to the task. Furthermore, according to Vygotsky’s (1978) concept of the zone of proximal development, collaborative learning is beneficial for students. Stronger students in the team can contribute more and “scaffold”, which allows weaker students to accomplish more than what they could have done individually.
In the past decade, passive teaching has shifted towards more active, student-led, collaborative learning in all levels of education. Examples are teaching methodologies that include more interactive discussions and teamwork. Another driver in collaborative learning is the advent of technology and online social networks. According to Rau et al. (2008), social networking sites are popular platforms to share knowledge and collaborate. Online collaborative learning allows students to work collaboratively without time and distance constraints (Palmieri, 1997). Such developments may bring new opportunities for technology to value-add to teaching and learning (Blau & Shamir-Imbal, 2017; Becker et al., 2017).
Who is it for?
Technology-led collaborative learning is especially suitable for the current school-going generation, or Generation Z. They are digital natives, actively engaged in online communities (Madge, Meek, Wellens, & Hooley, 2009). Most of them use social media on a daily basis, including for study and learning (Anders, 2018; Saha & Karpinski, 2018; Stoyle & Morris, 2017). We must understand their needs and wants to design effective learning solutions, and bring about improved learning outcomes.
Why do it - benefits
Many studies agree that collaborative learning is an effective instructional method (Cohen, 1994; Isman & Celikli, 2009; Lin, Huang, & Cheng, 2010; Moon, Jang, & Kim, 2011). Collaborative learning can promote the development of self-efficacy, enhance learning motivation and active learning attitudes, and lead to improved learning outcomes (Huang & Wu, 2011; Johnson & Johnson, 1989). Collaborative learning can take place on social networking sites, by getting students to work together on common tasks (Cheung et al., 2011; Rau et al., 2008).
Social media tools are beneficial for online collaboration and learning. They are convenient, user-friendly (Chu, 2008; Doering, Beach, & O’Brien, 2007), and require little technological knowledge (Desilets, Paquet, & Vinson, 2005). They are user-centric, and allow students to build on one another’s knowledge (Doering et al., 2007). Furthermore, social networking sites allow students to post ideas, share and comment on those posted by others. This increases interaction among students (Cheung, Chiu, & Lee, 2011). Studies show that students have positive attitudes towards using social media for learning, as it increases their involvement and motivation (Bowman & Akcaoglu, 2014; Lim & Richardson, 2016; Manca & Ranieri, 2016; Mao, 2014). As such, there is a strong case for the adoption of social technological tools for collaborative learning. The education industry needs to keep up with these trends, and implement social and digital approaches for instruction and learning.
Soqqle is a solution which melds social networking with education. It integrates various functions, including tasks, commenting and feedback. The benefits are summarised as below.
Seamlessly create tasks for students to complete, individually or collaboratively. Leverage the benefits of having multimedia as task deliverables, which can increase engagement and interactivity. Provide timely feedback to students, and track their learning progress.
Upload posts or submissions easily as multimedia. Engage with peers via liking and commenting.
Soqqle generates analytics from the data gathered, to give valuable insights to students’ learning. For instance, educators can find out which students are the most or least engaged, levels and patterns of interaction, and whether there are positive or negative attitudes amongst the students.
In summary, technology-driven collaborative learning is an exciting area that will revolutionise the education industry. We must position ourselves to reap the benefits of this phenomenon, by keeping in touch with trends and educational needs.