“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Ever since its inception, ‘learning’ has emphasized the belief that what matters for individuals is that they are given the opportunity to learn, often for themselves, with guidance and support rather than just being on the receiving end of what the organization provides.
Collaborative Learning – Imperative for Talent Development
In today’s competitive market, it is not feasible to work without collaboration and a network of teams. While learning is the core attribute of a learner, building an association by developing people’s network that can harness learning in a collaborative manner is the need of the hour.
While Talent Development is a set of integrated organizational HR processes designed to attract, develop, motivate, and retain productive engaged employees, the goal is to create a high-performance, sustainable organization that meets its strategic and operational goals. This could be best achieved through collaborative learning.
Collaborative Learning is an educational approach that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, create a product/service, or enhance their competence. The learning occurs through the exchange of ideas and other people’s experiences, in a conducive environment where everyone is on the same page.
The biggest advantage of using collaborative learning as a means of talent development is the fact that it increases potential for innovation and learning. When two or more people come together in a collaboration, they each bring their competence to the table, and learn from each other in the process.
The organizations are employing various methods of learning in order to better facilitate talent development, such as, Classroom learning, Web-based or virtual learning, Group-based learning, Peer-to-peer learning, or by providing other digitized learning platforms. The output of this exercise can be maximized by involving the learner throughout the process and encouraging the exchange of ideas and experiences, thus making it collaborative.
The Next Wave of Collaborative Learning Empowered by Digital
Social media is a useful tool for collaborative learning. Various platforms such as Lynda (a learning initiative by LinkedIn), Coursera, Udacity, and EDX have come into being, which are enabling people from all over the world to choose from a vast collection of courses and enhance their skills. These platforms enable employees to learn new concepts and interact with mentors as well as peers.
The digitized mechanisms, which can aid collaborative learning, include collaborative communities: one-to-one, one-to-many (within one’s team), one-to-many (outside one’s team), one-to-mentor, and many-to-many. The collaboration can be taken a step ahead by introducing gamification to the system, wherein the learners and subject matter experts (SMEs) are incentivized to be more involved in the process. The system can be made more effective by adding the features such as:
- Publishing employee competence levels vis-à-vis peers, teams, groups, departments, and so on
- Granting award points to people who answer the queries of the learners
- Creating a group as soon as people enroll for a course, where all the enrolled participants can come together and interact
- Enabling a pre-course session or a virtual connect with the instructor before the commencement of the course
The design of the system has to be such that the desired response gets elicited during the exercise.
However, the challenge in deploying collaborative learning will remain when it comes to developing people on soft skills such as customer orientation, self-confidence development, achievement orientation, and personality development. To help someone change a behavioral pattern, one session / connect may not be enough and may require to adopt a form of coaching. Further, if required, multiple coaches or cross-functional peers along with the use of multiple optional tools can facilitate learning. The design of the system thus has to be agile and scalable enough so as to accommodate these challenges.
Collaborative learning can have a major impact on the morale of the team members, and will deeply impact the knowledge quotient and team spirit in any organization. It makes it easier for people with lower self-confidence to come forward and contribute via these learning mechanisms in smaller groups. Collaborative learning results in improvement of relations/ bonds within employees, which results in better creativity, and hence better ideation, leading to increased productivity.
Finally, collaborative learning will always find momentum, if it is embedded within the organization – i.e. aligned with values or business objectives. With the fabric designed well, all employees are bound to experience increased on-the-job satisfaction and continued growth.