Collaborative learning is extremely crucial in today’s workplace. The world is becoming more curious. Everyone wants to learn new things and keep themselves updated. Fortunately, this generation of people can absorb more skills to sustain in the market. And to quench their thirst, their organizations are spending millions of dollars on training them. It is estimated that more than 200 billion dollars are being spent on workplace training.
Let us admit – the amount of content available online is humungous. There are multiple platforms offering thousands of content in the form of video, text, audio, animation, and courses. These platforms also offer immense flexibility to learn whenever and wherever they want – all through a single click of a button. On top of this, social media platforms like YouTube have opened up a mammoth gateway with unlimited learning opportunities.
Unfortunately, in this race to learn more, people forgot the most basic but powerful form of learning – communication. When two or more people communicate, they share knowledge. Research points out that we only remember 28% of the content after two days of studying alone. Learning the same content multiple times will increase it to 46%. But when we interact with people and learn by asking questions, we remember a whopping 69% of the content. And that’s the power of collaborative learning. Let’s take a look at the different wonders collaborative learning can do to your workplace.
What is collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is a teaching methodology where two or more people learn from each other’s knowledge or skills. There can also be one subject matter expert from whom the rest of the members gain knowledge. In collaborative learning, team members are equipped with individual strength and expertise. When everyone’s skills are put together, the members learn a new skill and successfully bring out a great product.
Collaborative learning is being used for centuries in the education sector. Teachers teach the basic concepts to students, and students would work in groups to bring that concept to life through experiments and communication. Similarly, in the workplace, many employees have adopted collaborative learning to learn new skills. The employees often meet each other to brainstorm and help each other overcome any project challenges. Collaborative learning can be in person or through e-learning, where employees collaborate through chat rooms, discussion forums, and comment sections.
Corporate Training vs Collaborative Learning
Both corporate training and collaborative learning have their benefits. An organization that implements a learning strategy with a mixture of both would do exceedingly well in terms of growth. Historically, training was offered to the employees without much thought. The training strategy often came directly from the top management without any discussion or suggestions from the employees. This gave the learners very little or no control over how, when, and what they learn. Through research, we now know that the 70:20:10 approach works the best. According to this approach, formal training will account for 10% of the knowledge employees retain, 70% of knowledge is retained through practical learning and another chunk of 20% is retained by collaborative learning, learning through peers.
Benefits of Collaborative Learning
Collaborative learning makes the learning process less formal to the learners. The HR will give the employees the freedom to suggest material, contribute content, and provide learning supplements. The learners also help each other through discussion, answering questions, and giving feedback. Another benefit is that the employees can self-evaluate themselves and understand what training and professional development they need. Here are some other significant benefits of collaborative learning –
Access to Subject Matter Experts
Every department will have an employee who is good at everything they do; this person can accomplish the most challenging task with ease. Their abundant knowledge and skills are developed from their passion and energy towards their work. These employees are not the usual 9-5 types. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a spot in their calendar to learn from them. But with the right technology, this challenge can be countered. Instead of having 20-30 employees learning independently at different times, the whole department can hop into a single platform at a specific time and gain the experience and knowledge from the subject matter expert. Mentorship is a valuable part of training, and getting mentored by a subject matter expert will make the entire learning process fruitful.
Facilitates effective communication
Communication has become rare during this pandemic. Organizations somehow succeeded in the work from the home model in terms of day-to-day operations. However, most organizations faced great difficulty in organizing training programs and communicating the brand messages correctly. The tools used for communication were documents, PDFs, videos, and audio which were lost easily. A perfectly streamlined and accurate communication of the information can be achieved through creating communities of different teams and channels. Also, in this, the organization’s top performers can share their best practices and coach the workforce. This move will break the barriers and create a mentorship for employees across the globe. This top performer coaching practice also removes the burden of paying huge money to third-party agencies for training.
The Forgetting Curve
Ebbinghaus’s experiment has found that when people don’t practice what they learn, they tend to forget most of what they learned in 30 days. The solution to this is spreading the training process for a longer duration so that learners will also get to practice what they learned. Collaborative learning doesn’t have this problem as peers interact and teach each other to be repetitive. When they learn something through collaborative learning they will also regularly bump into practical approaches that are taking place in the organization. Collaborative learning helps in reiterating what we learned and cements our knowledge.
Collaborative Learning Tips
An organization can help learners unlock their expertise, reinforce them through peer reviews, exchange best practices and share them across the team. This can be done through recorded demos, webinars, lectures, and calls directly through various platforms. The organization can quickly generate a report on the most engaged employees, how much knowledge is being shared across the workforce and identify subject matter experts.
You can increase your brand’s trust and awareness by creating a community where curated content on their interest can be made. Also, the customer can post their questions and get expert insights.
The sales expertise can be boosted from formal training by creating an open channel with the entire sales team where recorded demos, success stories, strategies, and sales calls can be shared. This would, in turn, drive the sales.
Collaboration brings out the best in the learning process in an organization. Wherever there is collaboration, there will be more knowledge and experience flowing between the team members. Collaborative learning also leads to better outcomes as the team would have multiple subject matter experts as mentors. To summarize – organizations following formal training must also implement informal training such as collaborative learning into their workforce, which would result in increased employee engagement and market value.