Collaborative learning

By working in groups, there are many benefits to learning as it forces participants to process the course content to a greater extent, contributes to creating higher motivation through the social context, enables students to help each other develop their understanding and develop team skills.

Team competence is a central competence in most professions, and collaborative learning CAN contribute to developing team competence, but unfortunately many students have negative experiences from group work, where they may have felt that they were treated badly, or had to do all the work. If you are going to work with collaborative learning, it is important to consider

  1. How should the groups be established?
  2. What rules apply to the work of the groups?
  3. What to do if a group 'does not work'?

There is a great deal of research on the difference between being a group and a team, as well as a great deal of research on group development.

The difference between group and team can be described as follows: Team has unlike groups: a common goal, specific tasks that each member of the team contributes, the team members are interdependent and aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Groups development usually follows a process that goes from politeness, conflict, consensus seeking, performance. Here you can read more about group development.

A hot tip for getting groups to develop more towards teams is to make clear in advance what it means to be a good team member, and to evaluate this at the end of the day / week / work with regularity:

  1. Be prepared
  2. Contribute to the team's work
  3. Help others contribute to the team's work (they may find it difficult to express themselves, or have their voice heard)
  4. Listen to what others have to say
  5. Be flexible - everyone needs to adapt to a team


Simulation and gaming

The advantage of simulations and games is that they make it possible to make visible the student's progression in their learning by offering (automated) feedback on tasks that are relevant to the course in relation to the learning objectives. Here is a brief description of what is meant by simulations and gaming.

Simulations can be digital, but they can also be completely analogous and mean that a real situation is imitated to learn something. Examples of analog simulations are, for example, that students are allowed to practice specific skills in a safe environment: In medical education there are many examples of analogue simulations, where students for instance learn suture technique, to sew a wound on a wettex cloth.

It can be difficult to turn abstract concepts and course content into simulations. Here you will find a movie where a teacher reason about how he transformed an abstract concept of 'Negotiation' into a simulation.

Engaging the students in their learning is central to their learning. Games are a way of engaging students, making it more exciting and fun to get involved in learning a certain content. If you think it is fun then you learn more. We can all think about the possibility of gamifying teaching, which means using some of the mechanisms that are present in play (competition, reward, time pressure, teams compete against each other, etc.). Here is a movie that introduces gamification of education.

Game-based learning is about turning the content into a game, such as mine-craft, which is a game that was created for its entertainment value, but which may also lead to some learning. This can have a huge impact on learning, but it is expensive, as it is about creating a gaming environment around content. However there are many games developed, and perhaps somebody out there in the world has already developed a game that would suit your purposes, so look around and share!


Interactive multimedia

Studies reported in the review Activating learning at scale: A review of innovations in online learning strategies have identified the following:

  • It does not matter to the learning whether the teacher's face is visible or not seen in recorded video lectures.
  • Integration of quizzes, discussion activities and collaborative tasks leads to more engagement and learning.
  • Students learned when they could create visualizations of course content and share with each other than when they only received text or video lecture.


For a more detailed description of the initiatives, see the article: Davis, D., Chen, G., Hauff, C., & Houben, G. J. (2018). Activating learning at scale: A review of innovations in online learning strategies. Computers & Education, 125, 327-344.