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Students form small groups to share concepts and work toward solutions for classroom projects; this strategy is known as “collaborative learning.” Peer-to-peer learning is similar to collaborative learning but aligns more with mentoring, in which one student leads and guides another student or group of students through a problem-solving situation or project. Collaborative and peer-to-peer learning serve their own purposes.
In a face-to-face classroom situation, conducting collaborative and peer-to-peer learning exercises is manageable because the time and space for them have already been established. Implementing these techniques in an online environment can be a bit more challenging. With the increased use of social media, the responsibility falls less on the instructors and more on students. Teachers can create virtual teams consisting of three or four students. They can recommend universally compatible and user-friendly collaboration tools, such as Skype, and share details of project requirements as well as timeframes and due dates for projects. With these small steps, instructors have created an avenue for peer-to-peer learning. Given a thorough set of instructions for guidance and logistical responsibilities such as selecting team leaders, each team can rely on its leader as a project manager in addition to relying on the instructor. This creates a shift from teaching to facilitating a classroom environment and from teacher–student learning to peer-to-peer or collaborative learning.