Case-based learning provides several important benefits to students. In addition to making stronger connections between theory and practice, students also develop greater interpersonal skills through working with peers. But instructors face some inherent challenges in using this teaching method (Mostert, 2007). It does require significant preparation on the part of the teacher and the students and it can be hard to encourage, let alone assess, student participation and performance. Using collaborative learning systems can resolve these issues, providing students and faculty alike with a useful tool that makes using case based learning practical, efficient, and effective.
Ease Prep for Students and Faculty
One of the challenges for faculty in carrying out case-based learning is preparing the case in advance for students to review before class. Traditionally, faculty were limited by the scope and type of resources available; likewise, students may have experienced limitations around access, especially when a single set of case study materials were placed on reserve at the library for an entire section of the class to access.
Collaborative learning systems can allow faculty to go beyond print materials for case-based learning and include interactive, audio or visual media; not only does this provide a stronger case study, but it also meets the needs of students who learn in different ways. In addition, the ability to use non-print resources may also allow faculty to develop more dynamic case study materials, boosting student engagement. By providing students with all of the materials needed for case-based learning through an online access point instead of a physical one, collaborative learning systems allow access from anywhere; students can more easily prepare for the case by completing the reading and materials review in advance, no matter where they are.
Boost Student Participation
A collaborative interface modeled on today’s social media environment can deliver a more familiar experience for learners; this in turn can improve participation by removing the tech learning curve that might otherwise slow student participation in a collaborative learning system. It ensures equal access by all students in the class from anywhere. Collaborative EdTech software solutions facilitate student participation by allowing students to work in small groups; students may be more likely to participate in smaller groups of 5-10 versus speaking up in a larger class of 30 or more students.
In some cases, students may be new to the case-based learning method. Using a collaborative learning system can keep everyone focused on the observations, discussions, and decisions that factor into genuine understanding through this teaching method. Having a single space to store notes, questions, and related student-prepared material can help maintain that focus. And being able to share student-created materials, like notes, among peers can prepare the entire cohort for a case-based learning experience in the classroom.
Effectively Measure Student Performance in Group Settings
Concerns about measuring student performance are common in group work settings. By carrying out case based learning activities in collaborative learning platform where EdTech data is collected and analyzed, faculty can assure students of an assessment that’s complete and impartial. Real-time snapshots of student activities allow faculty to intervene promptly as needed, reducing information asymmetry while offering faculty a chance to provide feedback to students that can be acted on right away.
Many of the challenges of case-based learning can be overcome by adopting collaborative learning system to support student work. From preparation to practice to follow up, having a single tool as the central point of service for case based learning can make the experience more valuable for all involved.
By Matthew Compton-Clark