Tips When Using Collaborative Tools In A Virtual Classroom

virtual classroom collaborationOne of the challenges of learning through a virtual classroom is collaboration. It is easy to share notes and discuss ideas when you are all in a traditional classroom. You simply have to speak up and voice out your thoughts. It is easy to discuss whatever is written in front and debate about it.

When you are learning online, this can be challenging. Obviously, you cannot see what is happening on the screen of another learner and even the instructor. There may even be times when you are not online at the same time. Should this hinder the learning experience?

Thanks to the technology available to us, online collaboration is possible even in a virtual classroom. There are many tools and programs that can be used to improve the learning. But before you can use them, here are some tips that you should remember about it.

  • Make sure the tools are accessible and easy to use. Not everyone has the same level of knowledge when it comes to the use of technology for learning. This is why you need to choose collaborative tools that are user-friendly. That way, the learners will have an easier time to use it. Not only that, you should make it as accessible across various devices.
  • Clarify the role of the tool in the learning process. This will motivate the learners to use the tool well. It will also encourage them to participate in the collaborative activities that will be part of the learning process. If they know the incentives and benefits that they will get from the collaboration activities, they will be more enthusiastic in interacting with the other learners.
  • Research new collaborative tools. Do not stick with the old tools. There might be new tools that you can use that can help you reach your learning goals more efficiently. Using the right collaborative tools will not only help in the learning process, it will also make the experience more fun and engaging.
  • Try to create “live” collaborations. While you are all learning through a virtual classroom, that does not mean you cannot do something with the class together. After all, that is the true essence of collaborating with each other. Set one or two sessions where the collaboration will be “live” or in real time. That means everyone will be online together and will have the chance to chat in real time. You can share a document or material that everyone can discuss and learn from. Make sure the collaborative tool that you will choose can allow these “live” sessions.
  • Utilize videos, chats, emails, etc. Communication is the key to a successful collaboration with the online class. Make sure all the learners have access to tools that will allow them to exchange videos and emails and also chat with each other. It is very important that the channels of communication are clearly stated so the learners can freely use them.
  • Define the rules surrounding the tools. Ensure that everyone is well aware of the rules when it comes to the use of these collaborative tools. That way, they can learn how to use it properly and they will know the proper etiquette of using them.

As you use collaborative tools for the virtual classroom, you should not forget that these are support tools only. Do not focus too much on this because it might become a distraction. The highlight of the online course should only be on the content of the course. Do not leave them too engrossed in the activities that they lose sight of what they should be learning in the first place.

Image courtesy of jk1991 for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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