The traditional lecture is optimized for face-to-face transfer of information between the educator and the learner. On the contrary, collaborative classrooms differ as they put more emphasis on student-centred learning. In its most basic form, we can describe collaborative learning as an attempt by two or more people to work together on a task or activity, and every member is assigned a particular role that they must fulfil. The first collaborative classroom was introduced in the UK in 2011. Since then, institutions of learning have adopted this dual-purpose learning space. That said, schools in Kenya are increasingly transforming from the traditional lecture halls to a collaborative learning space that facilitates the use of innovative digital technology, interaction, and group engagement. Collaborative classrooms have numerous academic, psychological, and social benefits, as we will see below:
Inspires critical thinking.
As identified in the previous literature, collaborative learning encourages a student-centred approach that actively involves all students. During the process, all the students work together to solve a particular problem, which promotes their thinking and critical skills. In comparison, traditional teaching only allowed the learners to absorb the information passed by the educator passively. During the interaction, the students learn to think critically before raising their ideas. While being loud enough, the students develop the skill of asserting relevant ideas.
Understanding cultural diversity.
Direct interaction in collaborative classrooms for schools in Kenya as well as international collaborative classrooms programs help the learners to deepen their understanding of cultural factors. Collaborative classrooms promote cultural openness, avoid misrepresentation that may result from the student’s culturally learning needs, and acknowledge learners with a broad cultural knowledge. Much of the attention shifts to the empowerment of minority students by presenting them to a collaborative learning environment that incorporates different cultural views and values.
Cooperation and sharing.
Learning to share ideas through working as a group is an art that should be developed at a young age and developed through into adult life. As identified in the Lev Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory, collaboration is an essential aspect of learning, personal behaviour, and social interaction. This has led to the introduction of international collaborative classrooms programs where schools from different geographical boundaries use media technologies like video conferencing to build classroom connections. An excellent example of a site offering the service is PamojaClass. Sharing ideas is not easy, mainly because the participants hold different personalities. Through collaborative learning, especially the one that involves different races and culture, the students get to develop tolerance on one another. They eventually learn and share ideas successfully.
Expands learning inclusivity.
Collaborative classrooms support every student despite their learning difference. Everyone is offered an opportunity to improve their provisions in collaborative classrooms projects and include them for discussion. This enables the teacher to include students with adjustments and make sure that they are granted the same opportunities as their colleagues.
Fosters the development of oral communication skills.
Successful collaborative learning is dependent on the effectiveness of the members taking part in the collaborative classrooms projects. The entire success relies on the ability of the members to communicate effectively while accomplishing their assignments. This includes sending information, receiving feedback, and sharing it with other people. That said, collaborative classrooms help the students to develop the ability to make oral comments and communicate freely both on intellectual and emotional levels. For schools in Kenya that have embraced the idea of collaborative classrooms, students can speak their thoughts, feelings, and ideas by asking questions and seeking clarifications.
Development of self-management skills.
Learners must be good decision-makers during group engagements. To be good self-manager, it implies independently going through the assigned task, challenging the problem and scrutinizing for possible solutions. Developing self-management skills increases dynamism in collaborative classrooms projects. The learners can interact and competently pool all ideas in problem-solving.
Promotes celebration of diversity.
International collaborative classrooms programs open up a new perspective of life for the learners. They learn to understand their peers without being critical. Moreover, a teacher needs the willingness to integrate the available technology in learning management systems to fulfil the real purpose of education. It can be identified as nurturing responsible citizens for the future who are willing to collaborate with other denizens to solve matters of global concern.