Pros and Cons in Using Interact for Group Assignment Projects in Distance Education


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Pros and Cons in Using Interact for Group Assignment Projects in Distance Education

Lisa Soon, Charles Sturt University

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Pros and Cons in Using Interact for Group Assignment Projects in Distance Education

  1. 1. Pros and Cons in Using Interact in Distance Education Lisa Soon
  2. 2. Overview  Group Assignment in Distance Education  Interact: What Tools to Use for Group Work?  Explore the Student Experience  Pros of Using Interact  Cons of Using Interact  Discussion
  3. 3. Group Project in Distance Education?  A subject may involve group assignment  Employers value group work skills  Group work prepare graduates for employments  Distance education students:  Different locations and time zones  Students don’t necessarily know each other  A lecturer groups the students  Student Characteristics:  Work in isolations – to encourage group work  Lack interactions and communications with others
  4. 4. Group Project in Distance Education!  Planning a group assignment in distance edu.  Can Interact (Sakai) be used for group work?  What Interact tools can help distance education students in their group work?  Students experienced difficulties or showed concerns on some tools. Can the tools be improved?  Significance and contribution  Students shared experience in group assignment projects  They learned interaction and communication skills required by future employers.
  5. 5. Interact: What Tools for Group Work?  Communications and Interaction  Forum  Chat room  Group email  Resources  Web contents  Calendar/announcement to plan and schedule interaction/communication  Freeware or other devices: skype, 3G roaming mobile, iphone, etc  Collaborative Reporting  Wiki /blog report  Word document - to be placed in a resource folder
  6. 6. Student Experience  Geographically Distributed and Different Time Zone  Full time workers meeting after office hours  Weekday night or weekend chats  Cultural Difference and Different Work Method  International Student  Language difficulty in chatting  Dominant students in group  Some groups lack leadership  Member conflicts
  7. 7. Pros of Using Interact  Tools generally help to  Share resources, experience and knowledge  Facilitate basic communication and collaboration  Plan and schedule tasks in Calendar and Announcement.  High Response Rate of Use and Adoption  Wiki report completed as required in an assignment  Most groups show an ability to use Interact tools competently
  8. 8. Cons of Using Interact  New CSU students training/difficulty?  Tools have limitations:  Calendar – for face-to-face teaching  Emails sent from Announcement, group emails and forums are tied with enrolment data – not to be edited,  Group emails – monitored by the lecturer  Wiki cannot be edited by two or more members at the same time - unexpected changes and destruction  Chat room – lack video or voice chat options  Forum – thread option to be made by default for easy viewing
  9. 9. Discussions  Who use and who monitor the use?  Students, teaching staff  Purpose of use?  DE vs face-to-face (e.g. Calendar)  Group assignment versus group communication in individual assignments  How each tool can be used at its optimum?  Is a tool effectively used?  Further training?  Improvement to the tool?
  10. 10. Suggestions Tool Limitation Improvement Wiki No control over multi-user editing •Provide help and tutorial information. •Allow multiple users to see who else are editing what section of a document. •Warn all users that only one person can save the wiki content at a time. Chat Room Mainly PC-based •Support the use of chat room through Iphone, 3G roaming, Palmtop, etc. •Chat room in Interact should be enhanced to allow voice or video chatting. Calendar Limited calendar activities for distance learners •Add online group discussions, event reminders, individual task deadline, and group assignment deadline. •Allow the use of different colours to indicate different levels of important events. Resources No help information on how to organize materials •Allow the choices of some standard folder names such as readings, discussion notes, draft report, and shared materials. Announcement/ Group email/ Forum Only send emails to pre-determined email addresses. Lack search options •Allow the additions of email addresses of private web-based emails. to their group members. •Support threading & searches in forums
  11. 11. Questions? Thank you