Group work can be highly engaging and educationally productive when skillfully integrated into learning experiences. It is possible to provide collaborative experiences for students whether they are on-campus or online.
Asynchronous groups will be working together on a project or document when they are 'separate' from each other (not synchronously). Teaching staff can easily divide students into groups to allow for the creation of group-based activities and assessments. In the Blackboard LMS, groups can be created in sets (where all students are allocated membership of a group), or single groups (which may include specific subsets of the students). Groups have their own area where interaction and assessment tools can be located specifically for the facilitation and assessment of the collaborative efforts of the group members.
See the following Blackboard support article to Create groups.
In a synchronous session, groups come together in a live environment. Traditionally, groups are created in the face to face classrooms by arranging desks into groups and then assigning students. Online, breakout groups can be set up in both Zoom and Collaborate Ultra and function in a similar manner.
Teaching strategies for synchronous group work
The following teaching activities provide a good starting point for group activities.
|Use the group as a way for the team to brainstorm a question or an idea so they have a working format of how they will address it. This is a good starting point for any group work.
|Use the group for students to find articles and share them. They can use this space to answer a specific question that requires answers backed by references.
Discussions around threshold concepts or difficult questions or opinions can stimulate rich dialogue in group settings. Using breakout groups, the chat feature can be used as a place for students to share their opinions or views on specific topics or issues. Students can then establish two or three things they will bring back to the main room to share.
|Provide students with a slide with a problem that they need to solve. It can be mathematical, technical or hands-on. Ask them to come up with a solution that will then be presented back to the class. In breakout groups these slides can be shared to each group to keep them on track.
Blackboard has a comprehensive article about breakout groups