If you are an instructor for online courses, then this posting is for you. There are so many advantages to online courses that students enjoy, but one aspect of the course they may not particularly like is group work. Group work online can be a difficult and tedious task-one that many students may wish to avoid at all costs. But as instructors, you know that is not always possible and that group work can be an integral part of a good class. We have constructed an online group work “Survival Guide”, and would like to share a few tips and tricks for you to give your students next time they complete online group work!
Get to know one another: share interests and details about one another to create a sense of community and target individual strengths. Also share contact information and schedules and time zones to best decide when to schedule online meetings.
Appoint a leader for the group: Choose someone who will commit to keeping the group on track, oversee all work, facilitate decisions, keep the instructor up-to-date, etc.
Divide responsibilities: Make choices based on the strengths, interests, and backgrounds of each group member. Make sure each member clearly knows their responsbilities.
Discuss guidelines: This includes how you will communicate, how decisions will be made, timelines for completing the work and rules for missing milestones, how to deal with group members who don’t fully contribute, etc. Put these guidelines in writing so you can refer back to them when issues arise.
Commit to communication: Decide as a group how to communicate and how often the communications will take place. The group may find it helpful to have a weekly schedule for working on the project and communicating with each other. See below for some communication options.
Continuously review tasks and progress: Always keep up on deadlines and make sure others are staying on top of their tasks and responsibilities.
These tips are a great foundation for a successful online group project. Be sure to check out our post next week where we will discuss free web tools we have found that make group work online a breeze!
Wikis are a prime tool for educators wanting to promote collaboration in their classroom. It is a central space that can be accessed by the entire web or only authorized users. The wiki can be edited by all users, which promotes a sense of openness and encourages sharing and learning. Wikis are a great way to achieve great discussions even with students who may be shy in the classroom. Here are 5 ideas to get you started:
Create a wiki to use as a study guide throughout the semester. Assign each student a different topic to cover, then everyone will be able to benefit from the wiki when studying for exams or reviewing.
Have students post the highlights of their weekly notes from class to the wiki to encourage sharing and discussion with their peers.
Create wikis for each group during a group project. It’s an easy way to track groups on the tasks they have completed and those that still need to be finished. Try tracking participation of each member by assigning each member a specific task. It makes them more accountable for their work within the group setting!
Instead of PowerPoint, have students create a wiki to present to the class for a project and have them navigate through the different areas they’ve created.
Use a wiki as a brainstorming “space” for students outside the classroom. They can share their thoughts or suggestions, and discuss different topics or ideas for projects.
Wikis are a simple, fun and effective tool to supplement your class. They are a great way to keep class material on the minds of students even when they are not physically in class. Try Wikispaces to start your wiki today!
There are so many great free programs to use on the internet to organize every aspect of your busy schedule and busy life that sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. These are supposed to be helpful and ease our stress, but that might be difficult when you have one program for your calendar, one for your group conversations, one to set up meetings and share files, and you get the picture.
Enter Wiggio. Wiggio may be the program you have been looking for all along-the program that combines everything you could desire from a free web-based tool. Create a group, invite members, and create a central location where everyone can share posts, share links, upload files, create events on a calendar, send various types of messages (including text!), create polls, or set up different types of meetings. Wiggio can even sync with other programs, such as Google Calendar.
Wiggio seems to be the program that contains just about everything a group could desire. Try this program to facilitate communication with department teams, classes, colleagues, or families.
The majority of your students (and perhaps you as well) probably have accounts with Google for email. But do you really know what else you can do with it? Well, many things. But for starters, Google Docs offers a great application, especially for busy college students completing group projects.
Google Docs offers users the ability to collaborate live on the same document and make edits, at no charge. Users are able to open their documents from their personal computers anywhere, make their own edits, see the edits of others, and use the chat feature to discuss with their group members. It’s easy to use, and makes completing group work a much more simple and enjoyable assignment. Check out our Google Docs handout for information on how to use this great feature.
Share this great tip with them and they will be able to avoid the dreaded task of finding a location and time that works with the entire group’s crammed schedules. And lookout for workshops in the spring to learn more about Google Docs and the other great applications offered for free by Google!