Collaborative Learning: How to Evaluate Your Content

Jun 14, 2018 by Carolyn Ruocco

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Collaborative learning that supports true transformation depends on great content. In a digital context, this is especially true. When you remove the teacher from the learning environment, content becomes crucial. Content needs to be engaging and relevant—it needs to spark conversation, instead of shutting it down. It needs to lead and facilitate discussion, and be the perfect mix of information, instruction, and interaction. That’s a lot to ask of content!

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad content out there, especially in learning. But perhaps an even more fundamental problem is we do not have effective criteria with which to measure content. And depending on the purpose of the content (i.e. to ensure someone understands health & safety rules, versus developing a shared understanding of new technologies that are shaping an industry) what is defined as good content can be very different.

In the work we’ve done developing collaborative learning ecosystems that drive transformation, we’ve learnt that a particular type of content works best. Two simple criteria we use are “authentic” and “open-ended”.

From our experience learners are more open to converse, respond, and take risks when the content in a learning program is written or produced in an authentic voice, drawing on real-world experience. Good collaborative learning content is also more open-ended and leaves room for the learner to think on their own. Scripted lectures telling learners exactly what the one-and-only answer is don’t drive interesting conversation.

Judging Your Own Content
If you already have content or are thinking of designing new content for your collaborative learning use the diagram below to assess the suitability of your content. If most of the content fills up the top right corner, you’re in good shape. If the bottom left corner is full, it’s time to re-evaluate your learning content strategy.

Understanding how to evaluate your content can save you time and valuable resources down the road. If you need more help and would like to learn more about how Nomadic develops award-winning collaborative learning experiences, book a demo today!

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