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Top 7 Tested and Proven Collaborative Learning Tools for Business

What is a learning collaborative?

Well, it doesn’t just sound like a cool organization from a spy movie.

If you’ve ever dealt with passive, bored learners who have no social skills, no cooperation, and are abysmal on group projects (and we bet you have) then you could benefit from collaborative learning.

The collaborative learning theory is that people work better, learn more, and retain what they learn when they do it in groups. Can you disagree? Humans are social animals.

Gone are the days of discouraging interaction. It’s outdated to be that one boss who says the dreaded phrases “Less chit-chat!” or the cringier “Less talky, more worky!”.

Ever heard of “teamwork makes the dream work”?

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‘We’ll tell you all about collaborative learning and why learning together enhances education and boosts overall success.

Buckle up.

What is Collaborative Learning?

The definition of collaborative learning is when groups of two or more learners work together to solve problems, complete projects, learn new concepts, and any other situation where you might be considered to be learning.

Collaborative learning solutions use groups to enhance education through working together. It focuses on active engagement rather than just passive memorization.

Groups have a lot to offer:

  • Differing viewpoints
  • Reframed thoughts
  • Bouncing ideas off others
  • Relying on others
  • Cooperation

And the collaborative learning meaning encompasses quite a lot. It can mean pairing a new hire and a veteran for easy onboarding, and it can also mean a huge team is working together to develop a new product.

Plus, collaborative learning can be done in person or via eLearning.

The Collaborative Learning Theory: People + People = Magic

Collaborative learning research started with Lev Vygotsky’s social learning theory. He believed that community and interaction were imperative in creating and teaching knowledge.

Vygotsky posed that individual development doesn’t happen without social cues, culture, and shared information.

We sure agree with Ol’ Lev. Learning is social – we don’t exclusively learn from books and utilize instructors. 75% of people's knowledge in the workplace is via social learning.

Peer-to-peer interaction boosts:

  1. Deeper thinking
  2. Oral communication
  3. Leadership
  4. Teamwork
  5. Organizational skills

Cooperation isn’t just something your mom lectured you on. Companies that promote collaboration and communication at work have been linked to reducing employee turnover rate by 50%. Further, effective group communication generates 4.5 times higher talent retention.

Working with a group can also boost motivation, effort, and punctuality. Employees who acted collaboratively stuck at their tasks 64% longer than their solitary peers.

They also reported

  • Higher levels of engagement
  • Lower fatigue
  • Higher success rates

It’s a lot like working out. If you have a friend or couple who lift weights together, you can’t skip out on leg day – they’ll call you, text you, and keep you accountable.

We call ‘em accountabilibuddies.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Learning in a Business Setting?

collaborative learning benefits business

Let’s sink our claws into what collaborative learning can do for your organization.

Here are a few common problems and collaborative learning solutions:

Problem

Solution

1. Questions and concerns when the instructor’s away

Peers provide answers through

  • Live chat
  • Forums
  • Video meetings

2. A large project that normally takes months

Takes only weeks thanks to

  • Team support
  • Instant communication
  • Instant action

3. Unattached employees with zero relationships

  • Relationships build through teamwork
  • Relationships build as a consequence without trying

4. A talented employee who never gets noticed

You benefit from every employee due to

  • The inclusive nature of collaboration
  • LMS learning

5. Inflated costs of training

  • Implementing an LMS reduces cost
  • Peer-to-peer learning saves mucho $$

Let’s go into these.

1. Cross-learning opportunities with star employees

Nothing beats life experience.

But since you can’t start a job with experience, why not benefit from someone else’s? Someone else with experience and skills.

We’re just going to assume you only hire smart, talented people (not that we’re judging).

Collaborative learning in the classroom lets you pair new hires with veterans so you can benefit from your most talented employees. More than you already do.

2. Peer-to-peer interaction for better social skills

Face it; you can’t collaborate without gaining a few new social skills.

Social and communication skills are always beneficial, but in a work environment, it means people get along better, cooperate better, and if your business incorporates social skills as a part of the job description (like sales) – bonus!

Forming learning communities will make education a part of everyday life that doesn’t feel like learning. It’s just another Instagram.

3. Knowledge retention means better job performance

Collaborative learning improves knowledge retention. People connect to information better when it’s personal, like a story from a teammate of how they dealt with a cranky customer.

And knowledge retention means your training is working. And your training working means better job performance.

And better job performance means

 

  • Reduced costs on training
  • Better business outcomes
  • Better employees
  • Less turnover

It’s a domino effect we can’t get enough of.

4. Prepares employees for future team efforts

preparing future teams

Providing education through group collaboration isn’t just teaching them the specific course subject – it’s teaching them how to work as a team to complete a goal.

Projects and new hire training with collaborative learning will prepare your employees for future group efforts within the company. 

They won’t even realize that they’re better at

  1. Giving and receiving feedback
  2. Using online chat and forums
  3. Video call standards – screen share, slideshows, mute, etc.
  4. Collaborative workflow management
  5. Sharing materials

Now, that’s practical learning.

5. Empowers all types of employees

You probably heard enough introvert jokes to last a lifetime, thanks to the internet.

But they do represent a large part of the population. Studies show that introverts make up 30 to 50% of the population.

But even the quietest, bottled-up employees will be able to show you what they got when backed by more outspoken teammates in a collaborative learning setting.

Plus, when everything is digital, introverts are much more likely to chime in with a “🤣” when in person; they might have just stayed silent.

6. Quick, efficient, and time-saving

Think of it as having a group of instructors that can all ask each other questions.

Okay, it isn’t exactly like that. But it’s pretty similar.

Being able to rely on peers for answers will save the instructor’s time and time, especially if it’s a trivial, simple question. No one wants to wait for an entire workday just to hear:

“It’s on your desktop. Up in the corner.”

Plus, utilizing an LMS with your collaborative learning will allow you to access a central knowledge hub. Videos, e-books, PDFs, slideshows, and more.

Everybody can grab their answer and get back to work.

7. Productivity soars

That last point leads to this one.

Productivity is boosted enormously when anyone can answer a question, anyone can share media, and groups do projects. Sometimes simultaneously on the same document!

And this can all be done by people in different countries, which means yes. You can take that trip to Tahiti and still get your onboarding done.

Source

All these benefits just boil down to:

It’s a good idea to stay connected to your colleagues.

Michael Krause, Tovuti’s Chief Operations Officer, talks about this in-depth in his 5 Tips For Staying Connected Virtually webinar.

Why is LMS a Great Collaborative Learning Solution?

The better question is, why is LMS not an excellent collaborative learning solution?

Okay, okay, we’ll explain.

A great LMS, like Tovuti, facilitates collaborative learning with forum discussion, easy networking, and social communities. Plus, sharing content is a cinch, whether a video, webinar, or document.

LMS software makes both regular collaboration and remote collaboration unique.

LMS isn’t just for lockdown

91% of organizations prioritized virtual classrooms before the pandemic

LMS boosts efficacy

75% of virtual teams said that remote collaboration allowed them to be more effective at their jobs

LMS allows people to learn the way they want to learn

75% of employees say they prefer video-based learning over traditional means

LMS helps you stay ahead of the game

72% of US companies believe that eLearning puts them at a competitive advantage

Teams can and should use an LMS to make their own content

35% of digital learning program developers want to include user-made content

Not to mention that 56% of virtual team members said that digital collaboration allowed everyone in their company to contribute to organizational direction, values, and process.

We could continue to rattle off the benefits, but let’s get to the features that will streamline your collaborative learning program (but if you want to hear us rattle off more benefits, check out our blog on Choosing a Learning Management System!).

Collaborative Learning Features in an LMS

collaborative features for employees

Yes! An LMS isn’t just great…it’s specifically great for collaboration!

There are features in an LMS that are the very definition of collaborative learning. Communication, participation, interaction. 

We’d say “we could go on” but intend to.

1. Course design

Course design and authoring are possibly the essential features in an LMS.

But it’s a critical feature in collaborative learning because a good LMS can offer a broad, diverse course design that allows you to make lessons that boost cooperation and teamwork.

Lessons that allow for

  1. Interaction
  2. Sharing experiences and knowledge
  3. Sharing materials and content
  4. The ability to work in groups

Having intuitive, smooth courses specifically designed for collaboration is a hell of a lot better than just giving each employee a manual and telling them to do their best.

Tovuti allows for more than 40 different types of course content through its highly detailed course authoring.

You’ll find something for yourself.

2. Communities and forums

Company forums, communities, and groups create a spot for employees to discuss issues, ask questions, and post memes (hey, we’re honest).

LMS forums and social profiles benefit training, productivity, and knowledge retention. It also helps build a strong workforce by building solid relationships and connections between members.

It also just keeps things organized. You can quickly assign and unassign members to each group, manually or upon completion of certain milestones.

This can be used for

  1. Setting system permissions
  2. Assigning courses
  3. Sorting and filtering reports
  4. Organizing teams

3. Learner-made content

Not only instructors can make content.

Learners creating their content won’t just be personalized but great training in its own right. Like a team leader creating their presentation or a member of the team creating a video to describe a concept, they’re an expert.

Having users generate lessons for their peers encourages knowledge-sharing and expands everyone’s perspective, leading to higher-level thinking.

It’s the big sister of a “hand-drawn pie chart on a whiteboard.”

4. Synchronous live chats and webinars

live chat

Man, who would’ve thought that being able to speak and learn live with your instructor and peers would be beneficial?

Okay, sarcasm’s over.

Seriously, your collaboration can have members in Kentucky, New York, Brisbane, and Edinburgh, and if you have a synchronous video call, it’s like you’re all in one room. Virtual classrooms and conferences allow team members to communicate, work, and share ideas live.

Plus, you can utilize Tovuti’s breakout rooms to separate certain learners into their groups. So if you have two team members working on product details and two working on a product name, they can each have their meeting rooms.

5.  Gamification: Leaderboards, badges, and more

Nothing like a little friendly rivalry, right? Competition can build healthy relationships and social skills.

An LMS can provide gamification in the form of

  • Badges

Little awards your learners can flaunt on their profiles

  • Certificates

Bigger awards that contain graphics, the winner’s name, and more customization

  • Checklists

Big fancy to-do lists that help your learners stay on track and are sort of like completing “missions” in a game

  • Leaderboards

Award points to learners based on certain criteria, so they can watch their name rise up on a company-wide dashboard

Plus when competition sets in…all parties are more motivated to win. Studies show that challenges and rivalries boost motivation and speed.

Source

This article from FastCompany describes the benefits of competition. Competition improves motivation, whether your incentive is an actual prize (gift cards, anyone?) or just going head-to-head with a rival.

It all produces serotonin. The feel-good hormone. That hormone that’s also produced via you-know-what.

Source

Chocolate. What were you thinking?

In our blog post, LMS Gamification: A Learner Motivation Strategy, you can read about gamification in-depth.

6. Knowledge database

Imagine having a huge library that could fit in your laptop…

Wait. We have that.

A knowledge database, or media library, is a big central hub of knowledge that ensures everybody has the necessary information. An LMS media library can store PDFs, videos, documents, presentations, and pretty much anything with some file format.

Your collaborative learning team can not only access this content from anywhere, but they can also access it simultaneously. No need to read over each other’s shoulders. ;)

You can even get pre-created content that’s already ready to go. You can learn more at our blog post Content Library: Curated Content.

7. Integration, tools and tech

Integrating third-party tools make collaborative learning easier. Seamless collaboration with both peers and instructors alike is critical.

And a good LMS has integration out the wazoo.

1. Content libraries

  • BizLibrary
  • Go1
  • Open Sesame
  • ej4
  • Traliant
  • syntrio

2. Virtual meetings

  • Amazon Chime
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • GoToMeeting
  • Join.me
  • Skype
  • Google Meet

3. Email

  • Postmark
  • Amazon SES
  • Office 365
  • SendGrid
  • mailgun
  • Google Workspace

4. Sales enablement

  • Showpad
  • Seismic

That way, you can contain all your tools in one convenient dashboard. Haven’t we all had six programs open at once before?

It’s a headache.

Collaborative vs. Cooperative Learning

collaborative vs cooperative

The two seem very similar – because they are!

Cooperative learning works under the collaborative learning theory: a group of two or more learners benefitting from a social, educational atmosphere. 

So it’s a type of collaborative learning. But let’s talk about where they’re different.

Collaborative learning is pretty independent, with learners taking the lead.

Learners will:

  • Structure their roles in a group
  • Structure the project amongst themselves
  • Source their own material
  • Proceed along without the instructor monitoring and intervening at every step

This can be a great thing. 58% of employees prefer self-paced learning over instructor-led learning.

Cooperative learning is more instructor-involved. The teacher will check in more, observe progress more, and the entire project is generally structured and role-assigned by the teacher.

Both types of learning have their benefits and can utilize LMS software to facilitate the process. Live chats, integration, gamification, and user groups will all aid cooperative learning, just like collaborative learning.

Top 7 Collaborative Learning Platforms

You know why LMS and systems like them are terrific collaborative learning solutions, so let’s cut to the chase and give you some great recommendations.

We can tell you’re excited to get that group project started.

1. Tovuti

Tovuti

Source

You bet Tovuti is number one. And with good reason!

Tovuti includes great collaborative learning tools like

  1. Course design
  2. Gamification
  3. Communities, forums, and social profiles
  4. Virtual classrooms and webinars
  5. Seamless integration
  6. Huge media library

With engaging course design, detailed gamification, simple white-labeling for customization, and an outstanding support team, Tovuti is one of the best LMS available.

2. Docebo

docebo

Source

Docebo is a solid LMS with awesome third-party integration, excellent gamification, and great social networking.

It’s known for having an easy-to-use, attractive interface, too.

3. Schoox

schoox

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Some peopSchoox resembles a social media platform more than it rMS. It’s designed for peer-to-peer engagement, letting you show off accomplishments on your profile and talk to your team through discussion boards.

4. SAP Litmos

sap litmos

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SAP Litmos touts its best features as simplicity and incredible ease of use. 

Good collaborative learning tools include gamification in badges and leaderboards, live chat and video conferencing, and assignable groups and roles.

5. Trivie

trivie

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Trivie claims they aren’t an LMS…they’re a service to ensure knowledge has an impact. We like that kind of quirkiness here.

And with gamified trivia and leaderboards, competitions and challenges, and an emphasis on peer-to-peer social learning, it seems like a pretty solid collaborative learning solution.

6. EdApp

edapp

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EdApp offers excellent course authoring, an extensive media library, and virtual classrooms and encourages feedback and social learning.

It also has built-in gamification with leaderboards and rewards. You can set up your learners to win free coffees, food vouchers, or whatever your company’s budget allows.

Have we mentioned how much we like gamification?

7. Lessonly

lessonly

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Lessonly says they want to improve team skills with feedback and drive greater productivity. And that sounds like a good mission to us.

They offer great third-party integrations, groups and role assignments, synchronous live chat, and other useful collaborative learning solutions.

Conclusion

So, we hope we’ve inspired your next education program to be just like a cheesy ‘90s movie where friendship and teamwork are used to defeat the rival basketball team.

Because we’re stronger together.

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Seriously, though, social learning and peer-to-peer collaboration improve productivity, knowledge retention, and engagement. We’re social creatures, and we do our best when working together.

And an LMS makes it better. Adding gamification, cooperative courses, live chats, forums, and third-party integration makes your join efforts streamlined and simple.

Got a collaborative learning theory of your own in the works? Watch our demo to make your upcoming training a breeze.

You might even say it would be a collaboration between your organization and Tovuti.

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

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