Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking – The 4 C’s of Education

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​​The 4 C’s of Education are Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. These four pillars are not only important in the workplace but also in education. This includes all areas of education from elementary school to continuing education to college and beyond.

But teaching today has gone far beyond teaching only in the classroom. E-learning has been on the rise for over a decade. And with the global pandemic, teaching online has become even more mainstream. Teaching has also gone beyond being only for those working in schools. Today, anyone can create an online course. This includes professionals, hobby bloggers, and companies wanting to educate and train their employees further.

In this post, we’ll look at how each of the 4 C’s can help you in creating your online course. By implementing the 4 C’s, you’ll be able to offer a course that is meaningful to your students. You will also be able to contribute skills that are relevant to aspects of their personal lives.

We’ll go over why the 4 C’s are so important, what they mean, and how you can put them in place in your online course.


What is communication in teaching?

When you give students are a voice in their education, they work better. Students who feel listened to want to contribute more to their own learning. Also, communicating with students can build a stronger bond between you and them. It also creates an open environment where your students feel like they belong. When people feel at home in a learning environment they are more likely to be willing to try new things and engage with their learning.

One of the biggest parts of communication is making it clear what you expect of your students. Often, students don’t know what you expect of them in an online classroom. Without being clear, students may not understand their responsibility to their learning. They may not understand what they can expect to learn or how they will be taught.

When it comes to teaching online, this can be a disaster. Especially if you’re selling an online course. You need to clearly communicate from the outset what students can expect from the course. Students also need to be told how they will learn. For example, through videos, reading guides, or other activities. Knowing how they will learn will help measure students’ expectations. In turn, this can mean that students won’t complain if the course is not delivered in the way in which they were expecting.

Essentially, teaching is a conversation. And it involves both you as the teacher and your students. So, make sure that all your messages are clearly delivered to avoid confusion.

Implementing good communication in your online course

Communication in an online course is different to when you are teaching in a classroom.

When you teach online, there can be many obstacles to communication, including:

  • Online activities are not being taught ‘live.’ That is, your student is learning in their own time.
  • Due to a range of reasons, even in live classes, you might not be able to read your students’ reactions. They may have their webcams turned off, or you may not be able to see everyone on your screen at any one time.

Ensuring good communication is vital to your students’ success when taking your course. Some ways to foster good communication with your students include:

  • Creating an online community. In this community your students can discuss points of the course with each other and with you. Podia and LearnWorlds are both online course platforms that offer this feature. Both platforms offer the ability for you to create a community for your students. Personal experience has shown that students like being able to interact with others. Particularly if they are learning independently a home.
  • Create a Facebook community. If you’re using a platform where you can’t create a community, turn to Facebook. In your group, your students can ask, and you can answer their questions. You can check out my Facebook community which I have created for the students of my online course over at Bloggers Creating Courses.
  • Utilise a messaging system. LearnWorlds has a messaging system whereby students can contact each other and their teacher from inside the online school. Such messaging systems enable your students to message you on the platform. This is great for students to send a quick message whilst their issue is on their minds. There is no need for them to go to their email and contact you or other students from a different platform.


What is collaborative teaching?

Whether you have an online course yet or not, collaboration is a useful skill to develop.

Teamwork teaches you how to rely on other people for different skills that you might lack. Demonstrating collaboration has many perks. These include demonstrating to your students that not everyone has all the information needed to teach every aspect of a topic. Such a realisation is important for students and teachers to note. Think about it, you can’t possibly know everything about a single topic!

Collaboration and collaborative working are important skills for everyday life. It allows you to combine ideas together with others. The product? Quite often collaboration leads to innovative solutions which may have never occurred otherwise. Collaboration also allows you to see issues from a different perspective and introduce a creative way of solving them.

Collaborating with experts in other fields

In Stupid Simple SEO, the course author Mike Futia has collaborated with a number of experts to offer bonus lessons in his course. He has identified that there are others who could teach the content of those bonus lessons better than himself. So, his collaborative approach has meant that he can offer more course content to his students.

Collaborating with students

Another way to collaborate when teaching online is to collaborate with your students. Evaluation forms are a vital source of information. They enable you to see how your course is being received. Also, by asking students for feedback, you can put in place changes to your course. This type of collaboration means that you can improve your students for future students, which in turn can lead to more course sales!

You can also collaborate with potential students by putting out a survey to see what students might want from a potential course idea. You could survey previous students, or, if this is your first course, put a survey out on your social media for people to answer. By surveying your potential audience, you will be delivering a course based on students’ needs and not what you think they need.


Why does teaching need to be creative?

Creativity is a mental process that involves combining or transforming existing elements to create something new. These new creations or ideas result from your own imagination or inspiration rather than from direct imitation.

Creativity is, therefore, a key characteristic for anyone who is teaching online. This is because it is vital for students to learn how to think in original ways.

Teaching creatively – ideas for your online classroom

There are many ways for you to encourage creativity in your students. Such methods include teaching them skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork.

When you have an online classroom, teaching creatively is made easier with technology. You can use simple applications to help spur your student’s creativity and brainstorming within group activities.

Here are some ideas:

  • Jamboard – an application available through Google. Students can use Jamboard to brainstorm ideas onto the same board.
  • YouTube – students can create videos and upload them for other students to view.

Critical Thinking

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to think about situations in an analytical manner instead of just having a gut reaction. It involves questioning what we take for granted, especially ideas that seem obvious or normal.

In education, critical thinking is one way to help us analyze what we are being told, and not just take things at face value.

How to integrate critical thinking skills into your online teaching

You might not need to overhaul your entire online classroom management system or curriculum. But, you can add a few simple lessons on how you can promote critical thinking skills.

When you show students a process for completing a task, explain that this is not the only way of doing something. Explain that they may need to adapt the method to best suit their needs.

Equally, if you use examples in your teaching, ask your students about what the example isn’t telling them. A blog article about a blogger who made 5-figures through their blog in the first 2 months of their website going live is a fantastic story to share with students on your course about setting up a blog. But, it’s important to point out that this individual may have had months of planning their blog, plus working with a team of professionals to launch their blog. Applying critical thinking skills will help students have realistic expectations of their learning.


In conclusion, the 4 C’s of education are all transferable to the online classroom. When creating your online course, ensuring that you keep these skills in mind will only enhance what you offer your students. You will enhance your students’ learning by integrating these four areas of teaching. This in turn can lead to your students recommending your course to others.

You might not be able to integrate all the 4 C’s into your online course, and that’s ok. If you can’t focus on all 4, I would recommend focussing on communication and creativity as a minimum. Students like to feel listened to and are reassured when they are able to connect with you as the course teacher. The online course market is becoming more and more competitive and so being creative in your content delivery will help your course stand out from the crowd.

This post was proofread using Grammarly.

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