Has your business misunderstood the methodology behind effective collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning isn’t a new concept,in fact just two years ago it was THE buzzword in learning and development, but it is a trend that appears to be here it stay. With such popularity, it wouldn’t be surprising if the question, ‘are we looking at collaborative learning?’ is one that has been asked within your own business. However, as with any trend, it’s important that learning and development (L&D) professionals don’t just jump on the bandwagon in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, and that an investment in this training method is strategically planned to ensure that it delivers results for the business.

A major misconception

Perhaps that’s teaching you to ‘suck eggs’. Yes, we all appreciate the importance of making informed decisions when it comes to investing in training, however, when it comes to collaborative learning, it is slightly trickier. That’s because there is a widespread misconception about what collaborative learning actually is.

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A common belief is that collaborative learning is simply implementing virtual learning across a varied audience within a business, be it geographically or departmentally. Essentially, the concept of sharing learning across different areas of a company. This lack of clarity amongst L&D professionals could be having a negative impact on the training results teams are achieving, because a.) they have disregarded collaborative learning as an effective training method for their business, or b.) embraced the idea of collaborative learning, but haven’t adopted the methodology in full, resulting in ineffective results that fade fast.

True collaborative learning

Rather than just provide a way to easily share ideas from one camp to another, true collaborative learning should provide faster skills attainment over a larger population, whilst minimising ‘learning fade’ and embracing both the on and offline learning environment. For collaborative learning to be effective it needs to be fully integrated within a business – utilising virtual platforms, the physical classroom and expert coaching, all of which has to be underpinned by a robust methodology.

When implemented in full, collaborative learning should help L&D teams to reduce learning fade, decrease time to competence, increase learning transfer, offer more transparency of learning effectiveness and evident with clarity the improvement and ROI of the investment.

Is collaborative learning right for you?

With all of the above said, collaborative learning isn’t for everyone. In fact here at Huthwaite, we’d only recommend embracing collaborative learning for a specific few. The methodology is designed to be beneficial for specific environments, such as:

  • Businesses that benefit from team playing and team sharing – as opposed to an environment that is typically highly competitive
  • Companies that need to share information and learning to help enable best practice across the board, and were doing this in a face to face capacity alone would be time exhaustive and expensive
  • Within an environment where learning can be fluid and mistakes are seen as learning experiences – not as career limiting

For collaborative learning to be effective, it has to be implemented within the correct environment. Sharing information, where deals are sensitive or data sharing is prohibited isn’t appropriate for a collaborative learning approach. Likewise, if coemption is what makes a team thrive, asking your star players to share their precious techniques with their peers, is a counterpart to asking someone to share their trade secrets with their competitor – it’s not going to inspire, and it’s not going to be positive for the wider business.

Before you opt for collaborative learning, ask yourself. Is this right for my team, will it bring about positive change, and am I implementing it properly?

To see if collaborative learning is right for your business contact [email protected]