Stimulating Collaborative Learning Through Establishment Of Project-Based Collaborative Learning

free essayA constructive learning environment is the one that facilitates free sharing of information among learners as well as between them and their instructors. There is sufficient evidence to prove that in order to achieve effective learning, one needs to take initiatives to promote collaboration between learners.

Statement of the Problem

The thirst for education continues to grow as evidenced by the increase in the number of learners. The significant amount of those eager to study in comparison to the number of instructors in some environments poses a challenge on the learning process. As a result, instructors cannot pay enough time and attention to all learners. Such unsuitable situation often impedes the efforts to realize the learning objectives. Based on this understanding, it is essential to initiate the approaches through which learners can be empowered to collaborate and conduct a lot of research work. In such a way, they can be aided in acquiring knowledge and skills that are necessary for their survival in the work environment and for their general interactions after school.

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The Target Learners

The Project-Based Collaborative Learning model targets all students in the institutions of higher education. The focus of the model is to boost constructive learning through cooperation among learners who are mature enough to facilitate their process of knowledge acquiring through group discussions and collaborative research work (Auer, Guralnick, & Uhomoibhi 2017, p. 67).

The Learning Needs and Performance Context

Learners in the institutions of higher education focus on the acquisition of knowledge and skills that can further enable them to fit well in various work settings. The society puts numerous expectations on students after they complete their education as they need to start contributing to societal development in various capacities. In the 21st century, work environment is very dynamic, and thus learners need to obtain a variety of skills that are hard to acquire without effective interaction and knowledge sharing through such opportunities as discussion groups. According to Auer, Guralnick, and Uhomoibhi (2017, p. 85), the current learning environment also calls for substantial knowledge of the computer technology since many instructors currently take advantage of the modern technological developments to facilitate real time learning and boost interactions among students.

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The Project-Based Collaborative Learning model facilitates achievement of the learning needs by stimulating intensive collaborative knowledge construction by learners while they undertake various projects that are assigned to them by tutors (Auer, Guralnick, & Uhomoibhi 2017, p. 75). This model enables maximization of the number of interactions that learners have in their respective collaborative groups. Furthermore, it avails a special schedule that learners can use to perform the tasks assigned to them. With regard to the performance context, adoption of the Project-Based Collaborative Learning model can enhance students’ performance by giving the opportunity to use computer support model that makes it easy for tutors to build temporal sequence of projects and to have them assigned to collaborative groups.

The Purpose of the Proposed Learning Environment and Vision of How it Will Be Used

An effective way of enhancing learning is to apply the Project-Based Learning (PBL0 model. Baloiaan (2014, p. 52) states that the model is effective in advancing constructive learning as it enables to organize the process by involving students in the project activity. The learning environment is created with a vision that it will enable the realization of constructive learning through fruitful collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Project-Based Learning Environment gives room for a constructive basis for collaboration among learners. Since every project must have a certain purpose, the PBL facilitates realization of the purpose of students’ engagement in the learning environment (Baloiaan 2014, p. 96). The model proposes a setting where learners depend on one another. Besides, the project promotes interactions between students because it requires working in cooperation. Due to its interactive nature, the PBL is recognized as an effective approach that needs to be integrated with collaborative learning model.

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The idea of collaborative learning relies on a number of theories and concepts. They include the constructivist theory, constructionism, distributed constructionism, and the shared cognition theory. All of them support collaboration as an effective learning approach that facilitates realization of the learning objectives. The same ideas is supported by the concept of community of practice. The Project-Based Collaborative Learning facilitates students’ acquisition of the high-level professional knowledge. The model promotes the skills of extensive analysis, evaluation, and synthesis in the learning process as students engage with new concepts (Baloiaan 2014, p. 102). It also encourages students to work in cooperation thus creating an environment of collaborative group work. In such a way, students acquire collaborative skills that facilitate communication among them, promote acquisition of management skills, and enable to resolve possible conflicts or disagreements among the group members.

Barriers to Implementation of the Project-based Collaborative Learning

A number of obstacles can pose challenges on the effective implementation of a Project-Based Collaborative Learning model. One of the barriers is the complexity of the approach as it needs to be implemented using a computer-supported collaborative design. Other issues include multi-linguistics, difficulties in learning cultural norms, and the practical learning that is implemented through completion of the assigned tasks. Some of the challenges that are foreseen in the course of application of the Project-Based Collaborative Learning model are purely personal and relate to the personal traits of students. In a view of the fact that the obstacles can slow down the achievement of success after adopting the model, it is necessary to note that personal differences are a part of the challenges that learners may encounter outside the learning environment (Boss & Krauss 2014, p. 74). In this regard, Boss and Krauss (2014, p.79) suggest that it is essential for all learners to be supervised in acquiring the necessary skills that can help them manage dynamism in their future work environments so that the issues like cultural differences do not hinder them from justifying their productivity at work.

How It Works

Goals for Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the ways to facilitate effective knowledge sharing. It helps learners who have weaknesses in a given subject to benefit from the strengths of other learners in the same area. The goals of the Performance-Based Collaborative Learning include the promotion of interaction between learners, the reduction and bridging of the gap experienced in the tutor-to-learner ratio, and the increase of the learning process effectiveness. The model advocates for the use of computer-supported forums to enable learners interact without having to actually gather to have discussions. Interactions through group-work that are aimed at completing assigned tasks are quite effective in knowledge sharing and essential for knowledge retention by the learners who are good at particular topics or subject areas (Boss & Krauss 2014, p. 64). As they share their knowledge in the process of completing the assigned tasks, those who already are knowledgeable in the topic areas can refresh their memory, as those who may have certain weaknesses advance their understanding of the topics. Through such interactions, the Project-Based Collaborative Learning promotes realization of the learning objectives.

Strategy for Using the Social Collaborative Tools

The social collaborative tools can be applied when adopting a strategy to enhance the use of computer-supported forums in the learning process. The tools are chosen with consideration of learning environment. Currently, information technology is a popular trend that in all sectors of life. Moreover, governments have established computer-supported platforms to enable citizen’s to access essential services without necessarily travelling long distance to physically appear in government offices to file tax returns for instance. The PBCL model is supported by special tools that can be divided into two broad categories: those used for technological support and those utilized in forming and managing the PBCL environment. The instruments that belong to the first category are already widespread, while there is still a need to develop the tools that are used for computer-mediated formation and management of PBCL model in the education sector. Due to the complexity of the PBCL approach, it urges the adoption of the intelligent tool that can facilitate realization of the dynamic establishment of the learning environment (Bender 2012, p. 114).

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The setting suggested by this model is capable of stimulating knowledge construction while students do their study projects. Computer support of the model is attained by the use of the intelligent tool. A complete PBCL environment comprises the collaborative groups of learners and the projects that they complete (Bender 2012, p. 123). One of the key identifying factors of the collaborative group is its size and composition. When creating the group, it is necessary to note that every student has professional personal knowledge even prior to the start of the group activities. Tutors should make sure that the tasks assigned to learners in the collaborative groups fulfill the characteristics of these collaborative groups. For example, they should have a deadline that drives the pace of the collaborative group work, a clearly defined duration within which the task assigned to the group should be accomplished, and the relevant knowledge that is required for successful completion of the assigned task.

Application of the Intelligent Tool for Dynamic Formation and Evaluation of the PBCL Environment

The intelligent tool is important to use in the PBCL learning environment because it helps instructors to perform a wide range of activities. First, it enables the formation of PBCL environment considering the model that needs to be applied (Bender 2012, p. 122). The formation of the learning environment is exceptionally vital since it acts as a stimulant to the process of knowledge construction by learners while they perform the course projects that are assigned to them. It also helps to evaluate the outcome of the collaboration and assess efficiency that students showed when studying their subjects.

According to Cheung et al. (2013, p. 153), the intelligent tool is applied when seeking to obtain information from the instructor. It includes the knowledge that is required for successful completion of the assigned projects, the time frame that learners are allocated within which they should complete the project, the amount of work that should be done in the project, and a set of project tasks. The intelligent tool is effective in performing several procedures, such as the dynamic process that is used when forming temporal sequence of task groups and checking the necessary condition that should be attained prior to the start of group projects. The instrument is also helpful in determining the composition and the size of the collaborative group apart from assisting tutors in assigning particular learners with the given tasks. What is more, the intelligent tool is used to determine the schemes that are necessary for knowledge construction and conducting an evaluation of the level of effectiveness of the collaboration (Global IGI & Information Resource Management Association 2017, p. 42).

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Recommendations

In order to implement the PBCL model properly and realize its importance when used alongside the intelligent tool, one should have a number of considerations. First, it is advisable for tutors to teach their respective subjects or courses by adopting the explanation means involving the use of a sample project. Secondly, Lytraset el al. (2011, p.57) suggest that tutors should always focus on establishing the systems that enable learners to perform exercises within the projects assigned in such a way that they have as many consultative forums as possible. The individual knowledge of students is determined in accordance with the results that they receive from the assigned exercises. In case the knowledge that is displayed by all learners is below the project-relevant knowledge level, the instructor should offer additional exercises that can provide an opportunity to have further interactions and share skills. It is also recommended that each of the groups be assigned with different project themes. Additionally, the collaborative learning environment should be dynamically formed with the help of the intelligent tool. Dynamism in the Project-Based Collaborative Learning is necessary for effective knowledge sharing. It enables learners who lack knowledge of skills in particular areas to benefit from those with sufficient cognition in the areas (Maltese 2014, p. 141).

Conclusion

Effective learning occurs in the environment that encourages information sharing among learners. Such setting is created when student receive an opportunity to interact in such a way that they can construct knowledge without primarily depending on their tutors. The adoption of the computer-supported model of collaborative learning is effective in stimulating knowledge construction as students perform the projects assigned to them. The intelligent tool is used to form the collaborative groups so as to determine the constitution of the groups with regards to its dynamics. Project-Based Collaborative Learning environments are also effective in minimizing the unsuitable implications of a mismatch in the learner and the tutor ratio. It is necessary in the learner-focused process of studying that should be implemented in modern learning environments.

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