Is groupwork successful for increasing student learning? See this article “Five Things Students can Learn through Group Work.”
To develop a work-product as a group, students need access to some easy-to-use collaboration tools. Some instructional modalities include built-in communication channels. If already using a Wiki (such as a Google Site) or Blogs, there are built in mechanisms for students to interact with each other. Further information is available on those topic pages. If not, some simple conversational tools can be readily found by logging in to the @alaska.edu Gmail account or Blackboard course site. Here are some simple communication channels that most all students will have access to:
Chat Collaboration instructions to students:
Gmail Group Chat for simple text conversations
Click to watch video – 5 minutes.
Step-by-step instructions and help at Google Chat Help – Getting Started
Note that as long as the chatters have NOT selected to go “Off-the-Record”, the chat can be saved and retrieved by clicking on the CHAT icon (usually below INBOX – see mail settings if CHAT doesn’t appear)
Advanced Method: Instructions for Adding Voice and Video to Google Chat.
Comment Stream on Google Docs
This technique allows team members to write on the same document
(it helps to each choose a different color) and comment on the document as well.
For this section, we will focus on the commenting rather than the creating aspect of working with Google Docs. (For more on creating and collaborating with Google Docs, please see that section in the Grow Skills area.)
Comment Stream instructions to students:
Click on Create New button to create a Google Document page to share.
Notice that the default creates an untitled page.
Choose File/Rename to give your document a name, such as Our Project.
Next select the Share button in the upper right and click on Share.
Be sure to select Can Edit privlidges and notify people via email box.
You will have the option of sending a message with the email. Then click Share and Save.
Once the members set a time to all look at the Google Document at the same time,
you can click on the “is viewing” drop down arrow
in the upper right and chat in the open chat box.
Blackboard Group Discussions
Simple Method: Consider creating a Blackboard Discussion Forum for each work group. Allow participants to subscribe and have posts sent directly to their email. Learners can contribute posts, attach files, and exchange comments. Once forum is created, clicking on the action drop down arrow will allow a minimum amount of managing user roles in the forum (such as to block partucipation from individual users)
Advanced Method: If it is important for participants to be be fenced off into discrete discussion areas, you might consider setting up multiple Blackboard Group Discussions. See instructions at Blackboard’s on-demand help site Creating Group Discussions
Internet Conference Rooms (eLive, Collaborate, etc)
If students wish to meet together as a same-time group with full audio and whiteboard capabilities, consider setting up Elluminate Live virtual rooms for their group meeting use throughout the project period. You can create and access eLive rooms by logging in to the class Blackboard site, selecting Elluminate Live from the Course Tools menu, and creating a single (or series) of eLive sessions: scheduling-an-elluminate-live-session-in-blackboard-9. Students can then arrange for a mutually convenient time to work together in their Internet conferencing room. Sessions can be recorded for group members who can not attend and whiteboards can be saved as pdf.s and distributed to team mates. Group rooms in Blackboard might appear something like this:
You can find training for all aspects of using eLive version 10 here. In short, participants in an Elluminate session can
- have discussions using voice or text chat
- write, draw, and paste images on a shared whiteboard
- present materials imported from PowerPoint
- conduct polls and give quizzes
- simultaneously view web pages, video, and other multimedia
- use breakout rooms to work in smaller groups
- view or share documents or software running on any participant’s computer
- record sessions for later viewing or review