Don’t guide interactions, but do guide collaborations for more effective virtual classrooms

Telling virtual classroom participants explicitly how to do a task does not improve learning. Studies show that when a facilitator guides the online interactions of participants learning is less successful.

All this changes, though, when participants are guided on how they should collaborate with each other; for example, by providing guidance on how participants should ask critical questions of one another, or brainstorm together.

Participants who are allowed to get on with things for themselves as a group perform significantly better on knowledge and concept based tests following classrooms.

Several laptops around a central laptop - representing the interconnectedness of a virtual classroom

Take Away

Provide collaborative activities for your virtual classrooms – in particular by using breakout rooms – to support peer group learning.

Early on – or ideally at the point of need prior to entering a breakout room in a virtual classroom session – walk participants through how they can collaborate successfully both in terms of behaviours, and with choice of classroom functionality when using methods such as discussion, brainstorming, problem solving, and observational role-play.

Once in a breakout room and focused on the task at hand participants should be left by themselves – rather than be guided by the facilitator – to go through the activity. Any further facilitator input at this point should focus on supporting collaboration at a process level.

Note: a collaborative environment for a given group looks very different when you consider cultural difference, especially when the collaboration is between multiple cultures. Look out for future Limbic Quick Tips covering this area.

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