When I hear the word collaboration I am reminded of the 1970s BBC series Secret Army. Collaboration during the war was something nasty and not to be done. And if you were caught there were repercussions.
Okay so that’s me…
Collaborating together is something we should be encouraging learners to do. Once they enter the workplace they will (as we do) work together in teams, across departments as part of their job.
Collaboration is not only a way of learning, it is an essential skill for the modern workplace.
Collaboration for a learning objective can take many forms. Working together on an assignment, a presentation, a seminar. Learners can collaborate to gather resources and links for the whole group. Leaners can collaborate across different curriculum area for a common goal that benefits them all.
Collaboration for a group task or assignment is something that happens a lot on many FE courses. Students need to form groups, or be assigned into groups, plan, research, analyse and write a group assignment. The end result may be a written piece of work, or could be a presentation, a radio programme (podcast) or a video.
Getting learners within a group to collaborate on sharing links and resources is an effective way of getting learners to work together, but also use a wider range of resources than if they worked individually.
Making learners from different curriculum areas collaborate on joint projects, can be challenging, but very rewarding. We have had make-up students work on performing arts students who then working with motor vehicle engineering students undertook a piece of performance art.
In each of these scenarios, learners will need to collaborate. Though there are many tools out there that learners could use, and I am sure many would use Facebook, there is an implication that all learners want to and can use external third party tools. The VLE though not an ideal solution, has many functions that allow groups to collaborate together, share resources, discuss and also importantly feed into and out to those other tools and services (such as Facebook) that learners will use in addition to the VLE. It also allows for cross curriculum collaboration as learners from different areas will be able to use a common tool.
Using the VLE will allow the gathering of evidence for collaboration which is often a requirement for some assignments.
Collaboration is not always easy, using the VLE can be the oil that allows learners to engage with a collaborative activity.