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

Step-by-step instructions and help can be found at Google Chat Help – Getting Started. There are also some more advanced instructions for Adding Voice and Video to Google 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

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 (Collaborate)

Students can meet together synchronously with full audio and whiteboard capabilities in Blackboard Collaborate. Sessions can be recorded and white boards can be saved and exported for absent group members. Group rooms in Blackboard can provide the student with an arena to work together.


Is group work successful for increasing student learning? “Five Things Students can Learn through Group Work.

About the Author:

First employed at UAF in 1984 at the TVCC Downtown Center as a computer lab tutor, he enjoyed his years supporting researchers on West Ridge, and years working in IT supporting teaching and learning in higher education. Owen enjoys working with faculty and educational technology in a variety of capacities, and is especially interested in emerging ideas regarding MOOCs, and gamification.

This page was last updated on : Dec 16, 2014