Group work is required in a wide range of courses. In an online classroom, a lack of communication skills and inadequate project management often mean more frustration than learning for all involved. After teaching online communication courses with required group work competencies using native LMS tools, I recently piloted using a free project management suite of tools called Wiggio. After analyzing the goals and student expectations for group projects, this presentation will evaluate this group work tool, and provide a model for structuring group projects in an online setting. The presentation will discuss virtual group work approaches.
One of the issues that learners have with teams is their grade being impacted by other learner’s performance; therefore, the total grade should not be based solely on a final team product. Learners should be able to earn a top grade for their contributions even if all of the members of the team are not fully engaged.
Effective online group activities often fall into one of three categories:There’s no right answer, such as debates, or research on controversial issues. There are multiple perspectives, such as analyzing current events, cultural comparisons, or case studies. There are too many resources for one person to evaluate, so a jigsaw puzzle approach is needed with each student responsible for one part.
How Do Online Students Perceive Group Work? Does Online Group Work Enhance the Quality of Online Classes?
“Reminders by text or email a few hours before a conference call are very helpful.””I've never worked with a group online. This would've seemed crazy to me before. I think that gaining experience with programs like Wiggio and Voice Thread, were great experiences that I'll be able to take with me to future work projects, school presentations, etc.” “I really wouldn't mind another virtual teamwork experience after this one, and I'm now hopeful that my next group work experience is just like this one was. I learned that I don't have to be in complete control of an assignment to feel good about the turn out. I feel much better about the project than I probably would have if it were only me.”“ I wish most of my group projects would have gone this well and those projects were face to face real time.”
Improving collaboration skills in online courses
IMPROVING COLLABORATIONSKILLS IN ONLINE COURSES:VIRTUAL GROUPCOMMUNICATION USINGWIGGIOMartha Schwer, Instructor of EnglishOnline Teaching & Learning MentorMadison Area Technical CollegeMay 2013
Why Use Groups with OnlineStudents? This half:◦ With a partner,generate a list ofobjections that(online) studentstypically presentabout doing groupwork… This half:◦ With apartner, generate alist of all thereasons why doinggroup work is goodfor online students(and for faculty!)…
What Goals Did I Have For MyOnline Student Groups? Build effective skills for working withteams at a distance Provide framework for learning fromone another Build stronger interpersonalrelationships with peers Allow learners to experience real-world applications of knowledge Meet the WTCS coursecompetencies
4What is Collaboration?Coercion:Nochoice, nocommitment.Participation: I’m alongfor the ride;lead me.Cooperation:I’ll work onyour goal.Collaboration: We’recommitted toour goal.Connectivist learning depends upon diversity of opinions within a group.Downes states: "to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practiceand reflect.” there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, makingknowledge, or building knowledge. “…the activities we undertake when …we learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in(connected) ways” (Downes, 2007).
What Was I Using Groups For?(Formal or Informal?)GroupPresentationPeerTeachingResearchOralInterpers.CommInstructionsProgress &PeriodicReportsAcademicIntegrityTechnicalReporting
How Was Group WorkStructured? Groups formed based onavailability Group size 5. Instructor-Set Deadlinesand Topics Instructor, self, and peerassessment Grades divided betweenfinal process and individualinterpersonal comm. Duration 7 weeks Middle of semester Groups formed based onprofessional program &availability. Group size 3-4 More open topic selection. 2 instructor-set deadlines;students set task list. Instructor, self, and peerassessment Grades divided betweenfinal process and individualinterpersonal comm. Duration 8 weeks Mid-to-late in semester
How Was Group WorkOrganized? Members select instructor-defined roles. Team develops behaviorguidelines and agreements(team charter). Instructor-Set Schedule (1-deadline per week) Required weekly check-inor kick-offsession, generally blogposting or chat. One member turned in filesfor team; each memberrecorded video on at leastone slide. 6-weeks of direct Pre-Quiz on Instructions Memo withroles, communicationagreements, at least 15tasks, topic brainstorming. Group-created schedule Required weekly check-in orkick-off session, generallyblog posting or chat. One member turns in projectplan, progress report, finalinstructions with processexplanation. 2-weeks of direct instructionabout team interaction.
What Was the InstructorRole?(Palloff & Pratt, 2005)8Setting theStage• Guidelines• Rationale• PurposeCreating theEnvironment• Tools: VoiceThread• Bb Groups vs. WIGGIOModelingthe Process• Examples• Video Tutorial• Case StudyGuiding theProcess• Motivateparticipation• Plan feedback• Formative FeedbackEvaluatingthe Process
Online group work checklist“Too often we give students an activity and call it group work when in reality it’s something theycould do on their own,” says Jean Mandernach, PhD, associate professor of psychology at GrandCanyon University. “Then we get frustrated when they don’t work together and just do the work ontheir own.”Preparation Students understand the value of both the process and product of the collaboration. Students have guidance concerning how to work in an asynchronous team. Group size is small enough to allow for full participation of all members. Course provides numerous opportunities for community building prior to group projects.Assignment Assignment is an authentic measure of student learning. Assignment will benefit from collaborative work. Students have clear guidelines of the expected outcome of the collaborative assignment. Assignment creates a structure of positive interdependence in which individuals perceive thatthey will succeed when the group succeeds. Assignment is scheduled to allow adequate time for preparation and communication. Assignment is designed in a manner to allow students a level of personal control.Technology Students are provided with tools and instructions to facilitate online communication. Each group has a collaborative workspace within the online course. Students have technology skills relevant for asynchronous communication. Back-up procedures are in place to deal with technology failure.Evaluation Grading and/or evaluation strategies differentiate between the process and the product. Strategies are in place to monitor interaction processes. Clear grading rubrics are provided at the start of the assignment to guide student work. Self and peer evaluations are included in the process to monitor individual involvement andaccountability.From FACULTY FOCUS:: How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities (Bart 2010).
What Do Online Students WantChanged in Group Work? (2011-12) Show up at Face toFace Meetings! REQUIREDsynchronous sessions. Better connection withteam; email and DBdoes not work. Better tools Ways to avoidprocrastination. True Collaboration, notdivide up work. Avoid group projectswith slacker groupmembers. More time / lessoutside distractions Better options forstudents whodrop, don’t participate. Option to completeprojects alone:GrouphateThemes: Based on Interviews (35) & Surveys (95)students (OIC & TR)
What is PersuasiveTechnology?BJ Fogg, Play to 6:29
Does Online GroupTechnology Actually HelpOnline Learners?1. Trigger Event2. Ability to Respond3. Motivation to RespondBJ Fogg: ALL THREE must happen orthe behavior will stop—actually beprevented.
Can Technology Be MorePersuasive to Help OnlineGroups?How Can I Make My Online Student End-Products Match What theResearch Says Should Be Happening (rather than what is)?Can true collaboration, not just divide up approach, happen online inheterogeneous, gen ed, required courses?Can Low-Interest students be motivated by group interaction online?Will More Robust Tools Help Online Students Learn More In Groups?What challenges will online students have using external tools?
What Tech Options Do IHave?Bb Native GroupToolsMS ProjectSoftware(download)Combination ofSocial Web-BasedToolsTeambox, GoogleDrive(complicated)Freedcamp, Trello(no meeting)Wiggio
What Did I Find In OICGroups? 7 Groups had a total of 36students. Students chose to use the feed,availability requests,conference calls, calendaringtool, document/wiki. A minority of groups (3) chose touse “to-do” lists. 2 groups used links from web andtextual chat. 1 group tried in-person event withone member “conferenced in.” Students chose not to use polls,voice or video notes. Somestudents reported difficulty withvideo conferencing; otherspreferred not to have video. 2 groups called tech supportand spoke with a person (!);situation explained successfully. Text messages were used. 15/51MEDIANValue2012 Spring2013Most commonnumber ofsynchronousmeetings perproject1 5Most commonnumber ofinteractions perweek, pergroup.9 51Number ofedits to roughdraft of project2 6Late 2 0
What Did I Find in TRGroups? 4 Groups had a total of 16students; 2 dropped the courseafter week 1 of the group project. 2 groups did not attempt to haveany synchronoussessions, despite the requirement. Students chose to useavailabilityrequests, feed, document/wiki. 1 group used conference calls andchat. One used chat only. No groups tried to use videoconferencing, calendaring, to-do lists, polls, voice or videonotes Text messages were used by onlyone student. One team did not view tutorials orvideo about features and tried touse OneNote and thenSkyDrive, both of which causedbarriers to other students. 2 teams had drafts written mainlyby one person, as in 2012MEDIANValue2012 Spring2013Most commonnumber ofsynchronousmeetings perproject1 1Most commonnumber ofinteractions perweek, pergroup.8 18Number ofedits to roughdraft of project2 5Latesubmissions0 1
What Did I Find?1. 34/36 OIC students said they were “satisfied” or“very satisfied” with the group work process.2. 28/36 OIC students cited Wiggio or Wiggio tools byname as reasons for successful collaboration.3. Groups in TR that had the lowest number ofinteractions reported lowest satisfaction with theproject; grades were lower than prior semesters, too.6/14 students said they were “satisfied” or “verysatisfied.”4. Increased interactions seem to be associated withincreased satisfaction in group work.5. Effort in procrastinating students went up as a resultof the project; exam scores and papers after thegroup work project had higher scores.6. Conference calls using phones have ease of use andgood adoption; video and chat have significantdrawbacks for students.
What Tips Do I Have? Triggering responses develops responsibilityand connections between individuals; choose“push” technology. Encourage students to set up connections toaccounts they have loaded on their mobiledevices, rather than student email (ability). Synchronous sessions seem worth theeffort to students if efficient scheduling ispossible (motivation). Greater scaffolding may be needed for studentswith low motivation; final product type may needreview. Tutorials or additional examples of projectmanagement and its relevance may be helpful
Works CitedBank, M. (2010). How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities. Retrieved fromhttp://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/how-to-design-effective-online-group-work-activities/ on May 20, 2013.Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R.T. (1999). Learning together and alone:Cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. 5th ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allynand Bacon.Learn Higher (2012). Group Work. Association for Learning Development in Higher Ed.Retrieved from http://learnhigher.ac.uk/Students/Group-work.html on May 20 2013.Myers, S. N. (2009). Dealing with Slackers in College Work Groups. College StudentJournal, 43(2), 592.Myers, S. A., & Goodboy, A. K. (2005). A study of grouphate in a course on small groupcommunication. Psychological Reports, 97, 381-386.Neville, C. (2009) Making Group-work work. Retrieved fromhttp://learnhigher.ac.uk/resources/files/Group%20work/groupwork_booklet_200109.pdf onMay 20, on May 20 2013.Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.