Perhaps the most striking lesson that I learned from reading module 3E is that nobody should feel that he/ she is alone. I, for one hate the feeling of being alone which is why I do not understand why some people feel that being isolated, especially in a learning environment, can be more beneficial than working with others. Personally, I can enumerate several reasons why collaborative learning is better.
1. Have you heard of the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Not to be taken in the literal sense, this simply means that more ideas to a question, problem or learning situation may be devised or thought about if people put their heads together. The exchange of ideas can certainly bring educators/ learners to dig deeper into their knowledge, skills, experiences and expertise in order to come up and share what they believe is the best choice or solution to their problem or learning situation.
2. The practice of taking turns when sharing ones thoughts also helps educators/ students to learn an important skill, which is listening, and value, which is respect. A skill/ value that you may not necessarily learn, given that when you work alone, you just listen to yourself and no one else. So, basically, you only value your own take on things and will not be able to determine the best option since no other person will critique your work.
3. Also, working collaboratively teaches educators/ learners to compromise and accept the reality that sometimes better ideas may come from someone else. This enables them to be more accepting and open to new approaches and strategies instead of relying on traditional methods, even when there is that knowledge that these methods are not as effective as they should be in a given learning situation.
4. Collaboration promotes a happier learning environment. I believe that when educators/ learners expose their concern and situations on learning, they do not show that they are weak, rather, they allow others to see that they do not know everything but are willing to learn with the help from the people around them. It is through collaboration that individuals get to know each other better making the school or workplace a happier place for learning, and when individuals are happy they tend to be more productive.
5. Collaboration is for moving forward– in short, progress. I would like to think that the reason why educators/ learners share their ideas, expertise, materials, methods and strategies is so that they can affect more people along the way. Their agenda is to ensure that others learn, so keeping all the information to yourself is really not about serving others but serving yourself. In this case, one must again reflect on why he/she is teaching in the first place because perhaps a change of profession is what he/ she needs.
6. Collaboration encourages educators/ learners to feel valued. I say this because I find that people feel a certain pride if they know that they have contributed to another person’s success, which is why when individuals collaborate and when others see the importance of the person’s input in solving a problem, he/she feels good about his contribution to the group, community or workplace.
7. Lastly, collaboration allows for diversity to shine. Since all educators/ learners are unique, they must use their uniqueness to everyone’s advantage. For instance, when creating a project, learners must use their individual strength in order to come up with a more meaningful output. Otherwise, when all the members know exactly the same thing and can do things exactly the same way, their output may lack substance because they are not able to expose each other to alternatives or options given that they have similar skills and knowledge.
Having said all these, I respect that there are times that we, as learners, want to be left alone, say, to concentrate while working on something. But, I personally feel that when there’s an opportunity to learn from others or to share what you, yourself, know, we should not think twice about doing so because these opportunities not only allow us to expand our knowledge and skill sets, but more importantly, it allows us to have an impact on other people’s lives– which is a great blessing.