What is Group Collaboration?
Group work is a great way to build community and create peer learning opportunities. To facilitate this type of interaction, students need access to collaborative tools. Fortunately, several potential tools exist within UA Google Apps and Blackboard.
How can I facilitate group collaboration in my course?
Gmail Group Chat
Commenting within Google Docs
Google Docs allows team members to collaborate within a shared document. iTeachU has a great article on creating and collaborating with Google Docs. Comments are a handy way of adding notes to your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that are visible to viewers and collaborators. These can be invaluable for communicating with collaborators about specific parts of the document, as well as making notes about changes you’ve made or would like to make. Google has some good information on comments and discussions within collaborative documents.
Google Hangouts provide many powerful opportunities for collaborative work. iTeachU has a great page on Google Hangouts.
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 a 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 participation 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)
Students can meet together synchronously with full audio and whiteboard capabilities in Elluminate Live (soon to become Blackboard Collaborate). Here are some easy instructions for facilitating their work by creating Elluminate Live virtual rooms. Sessions can be recorded and white boards can be saved and exported for absent group members. Group rooms in Blackboard might appear something like this:
To get started or explore more advanced interactions, please see the topic page on Elluminate Live
Is group work successful for increasing student learning? “Five Things Students can Learn through Group Work.“