Some of the critical competencies that any student should have for success in any industry are communication and collaboration skills.

Previous processes of teaching and learning focused largely on developing three types of communication skills, namely:
  • Verbal Communication: Achieved when students can communicate clearly and effectively through spoken words.
  • Written Communication: This is achieved when students can be proficient in written communication,like writing technical reports, emails, and other documents with clarity and precision.
  • Active Listening: Achieved when students can listen actively to their peers and superiors, understand their needs, and respond appropriately.
Collaboration skills were very limited, or none at all. And an assessment of both communication and collaboration skills was highly teacher-centered.

They were assessed using the rubric or marking criteria provided by the teacher. And limiting assessment of a student’s response to only one teacher’s feedback did not accurately reflect the student’s overall understanding and engagement with their study material.

Moreover, students need to develop more advanced communication and collaboration skills beyond the basic three types to succeed in their future careers and make a positive impact in their communities. Another set of communication skills that needs to be included in their learning journey is:
    • Presentation Skills: Achieved when students can create and deliver engaging and informative presentations to teachers, peers, parents, and other community members.
    • Nonverbal Communication: Achieved when students become aware of nonverbal communication cues and how they can impact communication,and can use body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions effectively to convey their message.
    • Interpersonal Skills: Achieved when students can interact effectively with others, and also can build relationships, collaborate with peers, and resolve conflicts.
    • Cultural Awareness: Achieved when students become aware of cultural differences that may impact communication, and so can adapt their communication style to work effectively with colleagues and clients from diverse backgrounds.
These types of communication skills must include collaboration skills. Students should be able to work well with others. In their book, “The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures.” Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless demonstrate that providing a structured framework for group interaction and problem-solving promotes inclusivity, engagement, trust, and creativity.

Liberating Structures is a set of 33 microstructures or activities that can be used to facilitate collaboration and communication among individuals or groups.

A teacher can use these types of activities to foster collaboration among students, thereby enhancing the 7 types of communication skills a student should have.

Digital assessment tools like ntemata, provide a platform for teachers and students to encourage participation and active involvement in the learning journey, stimulate creativity by encouraging students to think outside the box, explore new ideas, and experiment with different approaches, and create a safe and respectful space for everyone to share their perspectives and ideas.

To streamline the digital assessment process and enhance communication and collaboration among students, teachers can utilize various strategies.

Below are examples of strategies a teacher can apply to streamline digital assessment processes and promote communication and collaboration among students:
      • Allows students to work together online on assignments, share feedback, and communicate with each other and their teacher.
      • Provide students with feedback immediately, which can help to enhance their understanding of the subject matter.
      • Use data analytics to identify areas of strength and weakness in students’ learning, enabling teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the needs of individual students.
      • Using digital assessment to map personalized learning experiences for students.
Here are some benefits of using digital assessments to improve communication and collaboration among students:
  • Increased engagement: Digital assessments can help to engage students by providing interactive and dynamic learning experiences. This can help to improve students’ motivation and willingness to collaborate with their peers.
  • Timely feedback: Digital assessments can provide immediate feedback to students, which can help to improve communication and collaboration among students. Timely feedback can help students to identify areas where they need improvement and collaborate with their peers to develop their skills.
  • Personalized learning: Digital assessments can be tailored to meet the individual learning needs of each student. This can help to improve collaboration by enabling students to work on activities that are specifically designed to meet their learning needs.
  • Improved accessibility: Digital assessments can be accessed from anywhere at any time, making it easier for students to collaborate with their peers and teachers. This can help to improve communication and collaboration among students who may not be physically present in the same location.
  • Enhanced data analysis: Digital assessments can provide teachers with detailed data on student performance, which can help to identify areas where students may be struggling. This can help to improve communication and collaboration by enabling teachers to provide targeted support to students.
  • Increased efficiency: Digital assessments can be automated and graded quickly, reducing the workload on teachers and enabling them to provide feedback to students more efficiently.
  • Improved accessibility for students with disabilities: Digital assessments can be designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities, providing equal access to learning opportunities and enhancing communication and collaboration among all students.
  • Enhanced creativity: Digital assessments can be designed to encourage creativity and innovation, which can foster collaboration among students as they work together to solve problems and create new ideas.
  • Greater accountability: Digital assessments can provide teachers with a record of student performance, making it easier to track progress and hold students accountable for their learning.
  • Improved student outcomes: Digital assessments can help to improve student outcomes by providing a more comprehensive and accurate measure of student knowledge and skills.
Teachers may face several challenges when using digital assessments to promote communication and collaboration among students: technical issues, privacy concerns, internet access, cheating, limited interaction, limited teacher training, increased workload, difficulty in assessing certain skills, limited social interaction, and limited access to technology.

Here are some strategies that teachers can use to overcome challenges when using digital assessments to enhance communication and collaboration among students:
  • Provide clear instructions and guidelines: Teachers should provide clear instructions and guidelines for students on how to use digital tools and platforms for assessments. This can help minimize confusion and ensure that students understand how to effectively use the technology to collaborate and communicate.
  • Set clear expectations for participation: Teachers can set clear expectations for participation in digital assessments, including expectations for communication and collaboration. This can help ensure that students understand their roles and responsibilities in the assessment process.
  • Foster a positive online environment: Teachers can foster a positive online environment by encouraging respect, inclusivity, and constructive feedback among students. This can help create a safe and supportive space for students to share their ideas and work collaboratively.
  • Encourage active participation: Teachers can encourage active participation by asking students to contribute to online discussions, providing opportunities for peer review and feedback, and assigning group projects. This can help students feel more engaged and invested in the assessment process.
  • Provide opportunities for reflection: Teachers can provide opportunities for students to reflect on their communication and collaboration skills, both individually and as a group. This can help students identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for enhancing their skills.
  • Use a variety of digital tools: Teachers can use a variety of digital tools, such as online discussion forums, video conferencing, and collaborative document editing platforms, to enhance communication and collaboration among students. This can provide students with different ways to engage with each other and the material, and can accommodate different learning styles and preferences.
  • Address technical issues proactively: Teachers should be proactive in addressing technical issues that may arise during digital assessments, such as connectivity or access issues. This can help minimize disruption to the assessment process and ensure that all students are able to participate fully.
  • Provide opportunities for feedback: Teachers should provide opportunities for students to give feedback on the digital assessment process, including the tools and platforms used. This can help teachers identify any challenges or areas for improvement and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Provide opportunities for one-on-one feedback: In addition to group feedback, teachers can provide individual feedback to students on their communication and collaboration skills. This can help students understand their strengths and areas for improvement, and can help build a more personalized and supportive learning environment
  • Model effective communication and collaboration: Teachers can model effective communication and collaboration skills by providing clear and concise feedback, responding promptly to student questions and concerns, and demonstrating inclusive and respectful communication.
  • Offer technical support: Teachers should be prepared to offer technical support to students who may encounter challenges with the digital assessment tools or platforms. This can help minimize frustration and ensure that students are able to effectively use the technology to collaborate and communicate.
  • Incorporate training sessions: Incorporating training sessions for students on how to use digital tools effectively can help overcome challenges that teachers may face while using digital assessments to enhance communication and collaboration among students.
In today’s fast-paced digital age, both remote and hybrid learning environments require that teachers use a range of digital tools and assessments to evaluate students’ communication skills. Additionally, collaborative assessment is an effective tool for engaging students, promoting critical thinking and communication skills, and improving the quality of assessment.

Digital assessments provide valuable feedback that helps students develop their communication abilities and prepares them for their careers. This, in turn, leads to improved learning outcomes and increased student success.

By streamlining their online assessment process and emphasizing communication and collaboration, teachers can create more engaging and motivating learning experiences for students.

To this end, teachers should consider incorporating a variety of digital tools and assessments into their teaching practice, using resources like Liberating Structures to evaluate and improve students’ communication and collaboration skills.

Possessing these key skills is essential for students to stand out to potential employers in their future careers and be competent, active citizens in their communities.

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