Shared Learning – The Value of Collaboration

Effective learning depends on the learner having an interest in the topic.  If that interest doesn’t come naturally, because the learning is something required by an employer or a professional organisation, it is helpful to find something that is of interest.  This may be as simple as prospects of future promotion for knowing the information contained in the learning materials.

It has often been shown that people learning together is easier and more effective than people studying alone.  When learners discuss their own interpretation of learning materials, both speaker and listener can gain a new perspective on the topic being discussed.

Finding the words to write or speak to a listener means understanding the materials well yourself.  Listening or reading something another person has said involves reasoning and judgement skills as the material is assessed for usefulness and accuracy.

Speaking, listening, writing and reading all involve the use of different areas of the brain, so any learning experience that involves all of these activities is likely to code the new information more solidly in the long-term memory with enough recall tags for later retrieval.

Online forums play an important role in online learning.  Apart from the obvious benefits of ensuring the learner does not feel isolated and unsupported, forums involve learners thinking deeply about the learning materials in order to take part in online communication.

Most people find that learning together with other people is easier and more enjoyable than learning alone, and the engagement is likely to result in better learning for everyone.