Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is particularly valuable from a learning psychology perspective, as it encourages interaction between learners and thus promotes intensive, reflective engagement with the subject matter (see Chi/Wiley 2014). Collaborative learning includes simple group work as well as complex tasks that are carried out over a longer period of time, such as the creation of a collaborative Wiki.

In addition to the deep engagement with the subject matter, the social component is central: learners have to cooperate with each other and coordinate their collaboration. This supports the development of social skills.

Collaboration & Cooperation

In professional discourse, a distinction is sometimes made between cooperative and collaborative learning: The former implies a greater division of labour, with each learner producing their own learning products which then form a whole (e.g. a glossary to which each person contributes), whereas collaborative work aims at a common product and requires greater coordination. Role scripts are often used here: For example, when writing a collaborative text, the roles of first author, reviewer and editor could be assigned. However, the distinction between cooperative and collaborative is not universally followed.


Possible Uses

Collaborative work is possible in lectures, especially when they are designed according to the flipped classroom model. In seminars, group work is mainly used in the attendance phase, but sometimes collaborative teaching-learning scenarios form the core of the seminar concept, especially in project seminars.

Digital teaching-learning environments also facilitate collaborative learning in the self-study phase: for example, annotation tools can be used for social reading, where learners annotate and discuss a document asynchronously. Forums can be used both to discuss texts and to provide peer feedback. Wikis can be used for collaborative writing projects.


Learning & Working in Online Environments

We have created a Navigator for Collaborative Working & Learning in Online Environments that provides orientation for which collaborative and cooperative learning activities the use of which digital tools is suitable. The starting point is formed by didactic questions and goals with a focus on those activities that can be used in individual learning units and that do not require the entire seminar concept to be geared towards them. As far as digital tools are concerned, the tools of Moodle are in the foreground - supplemented by a few other Leuphana tools as well as a few selected external tools.


Social Reading: Read and discuss texts together online

Social reading refers to the shared reading and discussion of documents in online environments, but with a time delay and spatial separation. On the basis of web-based annotation tools, learners and teachers can mark up and comment on documents together and thus enter into a dialogue about the content of the text.

Leuphana provides teachers with the annotation tool PDF-Annotation for social reading within Moodle. Didactic tips on social reading and instructions on how to use the PDF annotation tool in Moodle can be found in the Teaching Service handout::

We are happy to discuss the possibilities of collaborative learning with you, to give you feedback or to work with you on how to integrate collaborative teaching and learning scenarios into your teaching - whether in a fully virtual, blended or face-to-face environment.