When it comes to your memory, you benefit from a social environment where others can respond to and provide feedback on your ideas, and thus advance your understanding and use of new skills.
Sharing is Learning
When you're focused on a topic, particularly in a collaborative discussion, you naturally generate reflection and insight from thinking about the topic and responding to others’ insights. Idea generation and testing can occur in an instant within a collaborative discussion. This is why we often feel we have breakthroughs in these situations.
Collaborative learning is also the most useful way to learn about the nuances of a new topic or skill. Most skills and topics are rich in complexity and subtleties. Collaborative learning can expand your ideas in a more engaged manner, which, in return, creates a deeper understanding of the content for all who share and interact.
The Learning Science Behind Collaborative Learning
Creating your own thoughts and ideas (which puts the learner in an active role) is critical to how your brain creates a permanent memory.
Additionally, for a memory to stick, the testing of these ideas must be repeated 3-4 times in the first month. People primarily test their ideas by sharing them in a conversation, i.e., two or more people attempting to learn something together. Discussing new information with others, explaining new information in your own words, and describing a specific plan of action is far more impactful then simply hearing or reading the words of others. (Bjork & Linn, 2001)
Implications for Learning Design
Learning programs need to be designed to maximize the opportunity for collaborative engagement. Combining engaging collaborative learning experiences within training has significant linkages to long-term memory creation. Further, asynchronous collaborative learning experiences delivered online have the potential to scale collaborative engagement in ways never previously possible or at least logistically reasonable.
At sageCrowd, we believe that most learning should happen during the collaborative aspect of our lessons to take advantage of the power of collaborative learning.
Our collaborative learning platform allows you to revisit an ongoing, single topic (the core teaching of a lesson) discussion that helps you deepen your understanding every time you visit. You get to learn from others new angles you hadn’t considered before. You can share your insights and ideas. You can share what you tried and your results, and, of course, you can ask questions.
What to do next:
If you're looking to improve enterprise performance, you may recognize the inadequacies of traditional training methods (while at the same time, still using them).
But there are steps you can take to improve the way you deliver training and increase the likelihood that learners will remember and successfully apply new skills.
You can start by downloading sageCrowd's whitepaper The Brain's Natural Learning Cycles: Implications for Skill Development.
(Psst: If you're not a training professional and simply an individual looking to improve, all these steps apply to your own learning process, too!)
Bjork, R. A., & Linn, M. C. (2001). Introducing Desirable Difficulties for Educational Applications in Science. San Francisco, California, USA: Pfeiffer.
Dixon, N. M. (1999). The Organizational Learning Cycle: How We Can Learn Collectively. Brookfield, Vermont, USA: Gower.