Collaboration in virtual classrooms

Kaushal Sen

As we are adapting to the ‘new normal’ and moving from physical classrooms to virtual ones, what we most need to develop in our students is the skill of collaboration. As we see Covid-19 destroying human lives across the world, the small rays of hope have come when people have gotten together to beat the pandemic.

But how can teachers tranform virtual classrooms into collaborative spaces? When teachers and students do not share the same physical space how do they create team spirit and get children to work together? For this, teacher preparedness is critical. Choosing the appropriate tool for student engagement is the first step. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, Wakelet, GetKahoot, Play Craft learn will work in this regard. Once the tool is decided upon, it’s time to establish group goals, build trust and promote open communication. Activities like online assemblies, talent hunts, cooking classes, storytelling, group discussions, quizzes are a few activities that are engaging, stimulating, multi-layered and help the teacher establish social-emotional connect. Student self-directedness and motivation along with satisfaction are also an integral part of this exercise which can be achieved through feedback and assessment. It could be done by using rubrics where the learning outcomes and activity expectations are clearly mentioned. Hence, a kind of a reflective process where students are able to reflect on their own learning knowledge and experiences. Therefore, by focusing on qualitative education through collaboration every child is treated as an individual and is yet part of a group. Collaboration is an advantageous pedagogy which results in heightened engagement and increased retention in students.

As we are adapting to the ‘new normal’ and moving from physical classrooms to virtual ones, what we most need to develop in our students is the skill of collaboration. As we see Covid-19 destroying human lives across the world, the small rays of hope have come when people have gotten together to beat the pandemic.

But how can teachers tranform virtual classrooms into collaborative spaces? When teachers and students do not share the same physical space how do they create team spirit and get children to work together? For this, teacher preparedness is critical. Choosing the appropriate tool for student engagement is the first step. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, Wakelet, GetKahoot, Play Craft learn will work in this regard. Once the tool is decided upon, it’s time to establish group goals, build trust and promote open communication. Activities like online assemblies, talent hunts, cooking classes, storytelling, group discussions, quizzes are a few activities that are engaging, stimulating, multi-layered and help the teacher establish social-emotional connect. Student self-directedness and motivation along with satisfaction are also an integral part of this exercise which can be achieved through feedback and assessment. It could be done by using rubrics where the learning outcomes and activity expectations are clearly mentioned. Hence, a kind of a reflective process where students are able to reflect on their own learning knowledge and experiences. Therefore, by focusing on qualitative education through collaboration every child is treated as an individual and is yet part of a group. Collaboration is an advantageous pedagogy which results in heightened engagement and increased retention in students.

The author is a mathematics educator and Teach SDGs Ambassador at Presentation Convent Sr Secondary School, New Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]

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