Collaborate to Educate: 6 Great Tips for Training in the Digital Workplace
Collaborative software is probably the most powerful tool you have when it comes to e-learning and training in the digital workplace. Teams that learn together retain information and are more engaged, so making use of easy-to-use collaboration tools in the digital workplace; tools that are accessible from a range of mobile platforms and that encourage learners to acquire skills, knowledge and expertise, makes sense.
As a facilitator, you will need to be comfortable with the art of online participation, and be capable of designing deliverables that engage participants fully, for example through the use of clear and colourful interactive graphics that engage learners and invite comment.
1. Define your collective goals
First, require all your participants to be visible and to make themselves visible to the rest of the group, perhaps by recording an introductory video. Be clear on the value that your collaborative tools will bring to the collective e-learning experience. Be as specific as possible about the value of your intranet software, to engage and motivate your team to put them to the best use. Be clear on the use and benefits of these tools in both the e-learning environment and their real world applications. Take the time to set collective goals and paths to achieving them, and be clear on what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in the digital workplace. Present your goals and objectives visually, and make them accessible for all at all times.
2. Develop collaborative practice
To engage teams in collaborative practice, you need to ensure that the group practice and the digital workplace is geared to collective efforts, rather than individual ones. Look at your deliverables and replace individual study with fully developed opportunities for group study and projects. Deliverables need to take the fullest advantage of collaborative practice in the digital workplace, so ensure your training prioritises and enhances group discussion. Your delivery needs to be reflected in your well defined group objectives and you will need to relate your concepts to your learning objectives.
3. Boost group engagement
One of the biggest barriers to successful collaborative e-learning is a failure to fully engage learners who don’t see the real world value of the training they are involved with. Successful use of intranet software should involve real world scenarios that offer learners an insight into the value and impact of your deliverable. By connecting the digital workplace to real world outcomes you create more engaging training and learning opportunities. For example, hold a virtual live event when all participants are engaged in live group discussion around a scenario, document or spreadsheet. Aim to encourage a deeper engagement with the subject material and with other learners.
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4. Create an environment for supportive learning
Intranet software can be used to support learners through the e-learning environment. Encourage the development of a positive and supportive environment where participants can learn from one another and seek feedback both from other participants and from the trainer. The best e-learning takes place when participants feel free to question and query and to seek positively critical feedback from their peers as well as the group leader. The speed and convenience of intranet software is ideal for creating a collaborative e-learning environment.
5. Create collaborative assignments
Every learner should be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the group, their group objectives and of deadlines. Collaborative tools are excellent for keeping track of progress, objectives and deadlines through the use of collaborative calendars and timelines, giving participants a clear visual sense of where they are in the process. As the facilitator, it’s your job to guide and support rather than to lead or be an active participant in the group. You can be available for support through the digital workplace but participants need to be encouraged and allowed to take ownership of their own learning and their own collaborative digital space.
6. Remember that collaboration is seldom automatic
Collaboration takes time to develop, and can’t be rushed or forced. Encourage learners to engage and respond and then build on those responses. Because collaborative e-learning is geared towards problem solving, encourage participants to share their skills and knowledge bases through activities that rely on developing cognitive thinking skills. By adding a co-operative, team building element you can avoid the isolation that e-learners can typically feel in an open e-learning environment – for example, use gamification techniques to encourage participants to work together on an e-learning game.
By using collaborative software, you can create assignments based around instant messaging and video chats, creating a greater sense of excitement and engagement around group based tasks. Use assignments that participants need to complete collaboratively, tapping into the knowledge base and skills of their peers to achieve successful outcomes. This is a particularly successful approach when you’re working across disciplines, to encourage participants from different silos to engage and collaborate.