Recognizing the Power of Collaboration as the Essential Tool for Educators

14 February 2022 | By viviedu

Education is a big responsibility, perhaps more so now than ever given today’s climate of uncertainty. One way to better prepare students for the challenges of higher education, as well as the modern workplace, is to incorporate collaboration into classrooms. The importance of collaboration as the essential tool for educators along with digital integration in classrooms has been highlighted in recent studies and reports.

It’s not hard to understand why collaboration is so essential for both teachers and students. After all, it is regarded as one of the most valuable components of education. Collaboration helps students foster relationships and can be used to introduce more diverse problem-solving to the classroom. Teachers also benefit from collaboration, not only through working with students but by communicating with other educators as well. Fortunately, there are many education technology solutions that foster collaboration in the classroom.

Let’s look at ways students and teachers can collaborate in a classroom environment and unpack how the results are improved with the use of EdTech tools like wireless screen mirroring. 

Collaboration as the Essential Tool for Educators 

Before talking about collaborative learning, it is helpful to look at active learning.

Active learning is an umbrella term that can refer to many different educational solutions or activities in the classroom, including collaborative learning.

Unlike traditional learning methods, active learning strategies (collaborative learning included) require more than listening, note-taking, and rote memorization. The student must actively take part in the learning process, often through peer activities and projects.

Collaborative learning, along with other types of active learning, is the opposite of passive learning. Collaborative learning methods require students to work together, sharing a project equally, to come to an intended learning outcome. It’s a type of active learning that many may consider more student-centric.

Collaborative learning can be an ambitious undertaking for educators; however, with careful planning it offers countless rewards for participants, maximizing educational efforts. Teachers using this learning style will often break larger classes into small peer groups, allowing students to participate more actively in the educational process.

Collaboration Requires Thoughtful Planning

Collaborative learning does not mean taking a hands-off approach for teachers, though. If anything, the use of collaboration as a tool for educators often requires more thought and planning during the curriculum development process to ensure that students receive the intended academic benefits. 

Savvy teachers can increase the likelihood of better student outcomes by carefully choosing the way they share or give information to students, as well as by using data tracking or metrics. Educational technology like learning management systems (LMS) and presentation tools like screen mirroring are often used to help educators with this. 

Why Collaborative Learning Works

Also called “group learning,” collaborative learning helps students build a variety of skills that cannot be taught using other teaching methods. This learning style promotes engagement and a sense of community with peers. Additionally, it boosts confidence and self-esteem. These are all skills that are essential to future academic, workplace, and societal/family success. 

In the collaborative learning model, students or participants leverage the skills, strengths, and shared experiences of others within their group to learn versus using a more traditional teacher lecture model.

Also, students can simultaneously be evaluated at a group level and as individuals, depending on whether the teacher uses a rigid collaboration model versus using a hybrid or intermittent model. Collaboration can be used in smaller peer to peer groups, as well as at slightly larger group levels. 

Studies have shown that in addition to encouraging higher-level, deeper thinking about the subject, employing collaboration as the essential tool for educators can lead to:

Some examples of activities that could be considered collaborative learning include group projects, joint problem solving, study teams, debates, and collaborative writing assignments.

Collaboration Technology Empowers Students and Educators

Collaboration is an essential tool for educators to increase student learning and productivity. And when collaboration is combined with the right educational technology, it can help students and teachers do both. 

For example, let’s look in detail at wireless presentation technologies, like the previously mentioned screen mirroring. 

EdTech Increases Productivity in the Classroom

Screen mirroring enables teachers to directly connect and project a laptop/desktop screen, tablet, or phone to a central, in-classroom display so they can share teaching materials, including assignments and instructions to students. 

And when screen mirroring solutions are wireless, instead of needing to find and rely on a faulty HDMI cable or running from desk to desk, teachers can share documents, course information, and assignments with the simple click of a trackpad or mouse, all while having complete freedom to move about the classroom. 

Wireless Screen Mirroring Helps Students Learn More

One of the bonuses of using screen mirroring is the ability for teachers to quickly engage with students during the collaborative learning process. Screen mirroring gives teachers the ability to display/answer student questions with the click of their device. As a result, digital presentation technologies like screen mirroring give students access to critical information during these time-intensive learning activities. This in turn gives students access to information faster.

A recent McKinsey report found that on an international level, the use of certain digital presentation tech, like screen sharing, led to an increase of nearly one full grade-level in testing performances. The same report found that classroom implementation of presentation devices led to better academic results than student use of tablets/laptops. This is perhaps in part because teachers with screen sharing or mirroring devices control student screens with dedicated educational materials.

Using EdTech and Intermittent Collaboration to Foster Student Accountability and Independence

For educators who want to see more independent work from their students, an intermittent type of collaboration should be considered. In fact, some researchers and educators are now specifically promoting this intermittent or hybrid form of collaboration as recent research shows it may be better than other forms of collaborative learning.

In intermittent collaboration, peers work together on a project for a set period before they go off to continue working on their own. They later come together again to finish the project.

One of the bonuses of this form of collaboration is that it ensures each student is at least partially responsible for a portion of the educational process. When students separate from the group, they’re forced to come up with portions of the solution on their own versus letting other students take charge. 

Studies have found that when this form of collaboration is used, students often produce similar ideas, but with just enough variation or diversity that real innovation occurs. Students using the intermittent method produced more unique solutions than both individual learners that never learned or interacted as groups, and classes that used 100% collaborative learning.

Therefore, researchers conclude that the results from the intermittent collaborations are better than those where collaborations are a constant part of the students’ education. Tools like screen mirroring can help make intermittent collaboration effortless and a regular part of the classroom experience.

The Right Learning Activities Can Increase Class Participation

Students who are used to traditional teaching styles may need time to adjust to the more active form of learning that comes with collaboration. Some may cheat themselves (deliberately or inadvertently) by speaking less or letting others take charge of discussions, copying group opinions and answers verbatim, etc. 

One would think that collaborative learning, by its very definition, should be easy for teachers to implement. However, to be successful, collaborative learning — like any framework or system — needs to include activities that are achievable and measurable. 

In other words, it’s not enough that students collaborate or even learn something. The activities used should directly or indirectly contribute to an intended student output that is measurable, productive, and beneficial to student goals, like improved test scores, higher educational opportunities, etc. This leads to making the most-effective use of students’ time in the classroom.

And to encourage participation and learning for all students, educators should carefully consider the types of goals they set for collaborative learning to ensure all students join into the process with their peers. 

EdTech Helps Students Learn at Their Own Pace

Though some students may be slower to embrace group learning (or learning, period), others will find it empowering. 

While many teachers embrace collaboration as an essential tool for educators already, their students may also find many perks associated with this learning, especially when educational tech is used as part of the process. 

Collaboration gives students more control of their academic progress and learning. Since COVID-19, students have become more accustomed to both synchronous learning (requires simultaneous attendance at specific times) and asynchronous learning (allows students to access materials at any time that works for them). EdTech allows a synchronous learning environment to be more asynchronous, offering greater flexibility as students can move at their own pace and to learn from a diverse assortment of classmates. 

Creating Activities and Evaluations for Collaborative Work

How you goal set and evaluate group/peer assignments is important.

Collaboration as the essential tool for educators requires careful planning of goals and evaluations in order to be most effective. Teachers must think of ways to prevent less vocal and less active students from falling behind during collaborative work. One thing to consider is the use of feedback. Teachers can add feedback opportunities for individual students to ensure they understand and are taking part in these activities. 

One way to do this is by using technology with built-in feedback tools. These types of tools allow teachers to interact with students immediately, without moving a single step away from their current classroom location.

Collaborative Learning Checklists

When it comes to collaborative learning, setting your expected outcomes and goals before creating assignments is crucial.

Below is a checklist, inspired by this article in Education Week. You may find it useful when considering your group learning planning and results:  

Measuring Students’ Progress

In addition to careful goal setting and class activities formulation, educators should create measurement standards early in the process. 

Of course, the best way to ensure your goals are met is to carefully track your students’ progress and participation while these projects are still ongoing. Communicating often or sharing information with your students will help you ensure they stay on track and that important learning objectives are met. Good wireless presentation tools like screen mirroring will help you with this process.

EdTech Tools that Promote Collaboration and Improve Productivity for Everyone

When employing collaboration as the essential tool for educators to increase student learning, technology in the classroom can also foster increased productivity for teachers, themselves

For example, technology like wireless screen mirroring can be used by teachers inside the classroom to communicate effortlessly with students.

Instead of constantly moving between desks and the front of the room to change slides, teachers can share documents, course information, and assignments on a central display while roaming freely the entire time. This kind of technology can also help teachers streamline not only their attention efforts, but also their student evaluations.

It’s Time to Elevate Classroom Collaboration and Productivity

Vivi offers the only wireless screen mirroring and digital signage tool intended specifically for education in your classroom. At Vivi, we provide students and teachers with EdTech solutions that enhance collaboration, control, and creativity. More than 40,000 classrooms are already benefiting from a product-agnostic solution that seamlessly integrates with every display, device, and media available on the market. Contact us for a free trial. Your classroom will become a hub for collaboration and engagement.