What is Collaborative Learning?
Collaborative Learning is an increasingly common technique used within institutions of teaching and learning. Collaborative learning involves groups of students working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. According to Gerlach, “Collaborative learning is based on the idea that learning is a naturally social act in which the participants talk among themselves. It is through the talk that learning occurs.” (Gerlach, 1994, WCER). Proponents of collaborative learning claim that the active exchange of ideas within small groups not only increases interest among the participants but also promotes critical thinking (Anuradha A. Gokhale). Collaborative learning includes both face-to-face conversations and computer discussions such as online forums, chat rooms, webinars, etc.
“Unlike individual learning, people engaged in collaborative learning capitalize on one another’s resources and skills” (Chiu, MM).
Collaborative Learning within learning communities—done well—creates a collaborative environment and learning fosters the habits of mind and skills to work together to tackle complex real-world issues (The Washington Centre).
Creating a Learning Community at Textile Exchange
We are attempting to create an inclusive learning community amongst our members and friends, and draw on the expertise and experiences within this community to share and promote a collaborative learning environment.
Each topic will have a thought starter, often with a textile context, others will be from other industries or walks of life. Our hope is that there will be learning to be gained from within and also from outside our immediate networks.
Each topic will also include a webinar introduced by leading experts where the contributions by learning participants will be a vital part of the exchange. Collaborative Learning breaks down the barrier that can exist between teacher (or expert) and pupil (or learner) to result in a truly two way exchange of information.
Further, we think that collaborative learning will be an incubator for ideas, and can naturally lead into pre-competitive collaboration where the whole industry benefits. At the same time individuals within participating companies improve their skills and knowledge, feeding this back into their immediate place of work.