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Collaborative learning in an online learning environment: 4 tips

Discovering and jointly using each other’s knowledge and experience: that’s collaborative learning in a nutshell. As a trainer or coach, you like to use this learning method. And you know exactly how to do so in a physical space. But the situation is different in an online learning environment, where you should first distinguish between what participants can do in synchronous and asynchronous ways.

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Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Here are a few things that are best handled during live sessions: fast interaction, tests, and questions regarding knowledge and skills gained. But as participants study training materials during the asynchronous part of the training course, it’s also nice if they can post questions and comments — to which others can respond — in an online chat environment. You will want to facilitate such forms of interaction, too.

How to make sure participants join forces and learn from and with each other throughout the training course? We’ll set you in the right direction by providing four practical tips!


1. Have participants share and comment on assignments

Participants don’t have to keep assignments to themselves. Once they’ve completed them, they can upload their work to the blended learning environment. You can encourage them to comment on each other’s assignments — which often results in very fruitful collaborations.


2. Pair participants up

Usually, participants are perfectly able to provide each other with guidance, both during and outside of live sessions. Pair them up so they can practice with training materials together. If, for example, you organize a training course for salespeople, you can have each group of two participants record a video. One can play the customer while the other can assume the role of salesperson. They can upload the video to the blended learning environment. That’s how participants jointly create training materials, which they can subsequently discuss with each other (see tip 1).


3. Use participants’ knowledge

It’s easier for participants to learn if they can respond to existing knowledge. So, you should acknowledge the individual’s expertise and make sure they can share it. For example, have a participant hold a guest lecture. Such initiatives often promote enthusiasm, involvement, and interaction.


4. Create a culture that allows people to share things

When building a community, you should make sure participants feel free to contribute to the training course. That’s how you can take your training course to the next level. So, create a culture that allows people to easily share their knowledge, experience, and opinions. Ask about their experiences and pay them a compliment if they deserve one (for example, by assigning badges). If people feel comfortable, they will be open about their work and life experiences — which adds a lot of value!



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