How To Promote Online Collaboration In eLearning
What does it take to spark a meaningful online discussion? Or to give remote online learners the opportunity to interact with their peers and share their experiences? Online collaboration is a powerful training tool that can transform your eLearning course into an engaging social learning experience. In this article, I'll highlight the top 8 factors that can help you promote online collaboration in eLearning.
1. Social Media Integration
Most if not all of your online learners already use social media on a regular basis. They chat with friends and family, read up on the latest news, and look for reviews. As such, social networks should be an important part of your online collaboration strategy. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram give your online learners the opportunity to share tips, discuss topics, and provide feedback. Truly effective online collaboration involves open communication, and social media offers your online learners that outlet.
2. Communicative Online Group Leaders
One of the must-haves for successful online collaboration in eLearning is a team manager. This is the person who keeps the group on-topic and on-task. They help to resolve conflicts, delegate assignments, and clarify expectations. The online group manager must also maintain an open line of communication with each member of the online group. For best results, give everyone the opportunity to serve as group leader at one time or another. Each online learner should have the chance to build their management and conflict resolution skills.
3. Feedback Forums
Feedback plays a crucial role in online collaboration. Online learners are able to upload their own online content or share ideas, and peers can offer their input. However, you need an active online forum or eLearning blog where online learners can gather to exchange this all-important feedback. Provide your online learners with a link list where they can access feedback forums quickly. To encourage participation, integrate them into your eLearning course design. For example, ask online learners to create an online presentation or article based on the subject matter. Then have them upload it to your eLearning blog and share the post with your audience. Invite everyone to leave a comment, be it constructive criticism or personalized praise.
4. Communication Guidelines
Online learners must know how often they're expected to communicate and which online platforms are available. For example, are they going to use the eLearning course's social media page to interact with peers? Or have you set up a dedicated website where they can upload resources and share their thoughts? Develop specific guidelines to clarify expectations and responsibilities. In the case of online group collaboration projects, these guidelines ensure that the online group has free-flowing communication. If possible, get your online learners involved in the process so that they can help develop the guidelines. After all, they're the ones who have to follow them during online group collaboration activities.
5. Access To Skill-Building Resources
Online collaboration in eLearning centers on knowledge exchange. However, this process often requires specific skills. For example, online learners who encounter disagreements with their peers during an online discussion need conflict resolution skills. Individuals who are expected to manage a team require leadership skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for the eLearning course. As such, you need to provide your online learners with the building blocks for skill development. This may be in the form of a microlearning repository that features bite-sized branching scenarios and online video demos. Or you can provide them a list of valuable links that includes different skill categories.
6. Project Management Online Tools
Project Management online tools serve as a virtual headquarters for your eLearning groups. They typically feature built-in calendars, assignment trackers, and other online collaboration tools. Team leaders have the ability to delegate tasks and monitor progress. Project Management online tools streamline the collaboration process, which makes it more convenient for your online learners. Greater convenience leads to greater participation and engagement. However, keep in mind that some of your online learners may not be familiar with Project Management online platforms, which is why you should provide detailed instructions so that they get the most benefit from the tool. Offer online tutorials and walkthroughs to showcase the features and functions.
7. Effective Team Dynamics
Everyone needs to know that their voice is being heard. Regardless of whether the group consists of 5 or 50 people. This falls under the purview of team dynamics. Online learners should have every opportunity to express their concerns and opinions without the fear of being judged. Each participant must also know the common goals they're working toward. As well as how the group is going to achieve them. One of the most effective ways to foster effective team dynamics is to hold regular online meetings. For instance, monthly webinars where they can discuss important ideas and ask questions. These events also allow them to break the ice and get to know their fellow online learners. Just remember to schedule your webinars in advance so that everyone can participate. In addition, send out a list of topics beforehand to give online learners time to prepare.
8. Continual Improvement
Online collaboration in eLearning is not an exact science. In fact, it requires continual improvement fine tuning. Online learners' needs, preferences, and expectations are constantly changing, and your online collaboration strategy must adapt with them. Solicit feedback from your audience and then use their input to identify areas for improvement. For example, conduct surveys to find out what is lacking from your current eLearning program, such as effective collaboration tools or social media groups. Online learners are more likely to participate with their peers if they have a direct say in the process.
Online collaboration should be an ongoing part of your eLearning strategy. Not just reserved for group projects or an occasional webinar. It provides your online learners with a constant source of peer-based support and feedback. As such, they have the ability to get the social interactivity and individualized assistance they need to achieve their goals.
Are you making the most of your online collaboration platform? Read the article Top 10 Tips to Use Collaboration Tools in eLearning to discover how to utilize collaboration tools more effectively and how to make social collaboration an integral part of your eLearning strategy.