Instructors who assign group projects to online students see their efforts not as a burden, but as a tool to help students learn and form relationships -- just as they might face-to-face. real-time) communication, I often provide and encourage my students to seek out asynchronous (i.e. One unique disadvantage of online versus face-to-face groups is that ignoring communications is easier online. But first, let’s take a quick look at why we educators care about group projects to begin with. Recognition is a two-way street involving both incentives and penalties. Effective online instruction depends on learning experiences that are appropriately designed and facilitated by knowledgeable educators. Having students work in groups lets them practice the skills they are learning. TLI Tool Buffet at CSU Channel Islands has a list of useful online tools for teaching. Online group projects also benefit the individual immensely by exposing them to unique perspectives and teaching them to rely on others to achieve a common goal. Eberly Center at the Carnegie Mellon University has wonderful examples of group roles, group contracts and peer/self-assessments. For example, the project could include a personal reflection piece (e.g., e.g., Huang, 2011a), in which each member individually reflects on the process and product of his or her own portion of the group work. You can use these online group collaboration ideas to give your online learners these all-important perks. Additionally, group assignments can be useful when there are a limited number of viable project … One is the loneliest number…but we're still going to talk group work first. Individual activities can be most beneficial and relevant if your students have demonstrated difficulty with understanding the content or material introduced to them out of class. Consider peppering the project with low stakes deliverables and provide regular feedback. As an instructional designer, Nufer continually worked to refine the institution’s policies and technologies regarding online learning. Set deadlines and specific check-in dates for each part of the project. When students feel as though they are individualized and that their presence is being monitored, they will act much differently than if they can hide behind the ambiguity of a group presence. , which is essentially when a group member sees that other people are not contributing to tasks and decides to not contribute – electing perhaps to fail as opposed to shouldering all of the work. Identify what project activities must be accomplished, in what order and by when. Together, the group should identify which person will undertake each task. on a rowing machine) to determine a baseline of one’s capabilities, then subsequently measuring that individual’s output as part of a group. The best ways to handle these projects are to maintain a positive attitude and be prepared to meet the challenges. In online courses, group projects have two added benefits: (1) helping students connect with one another (which helps counteract potential isolation) and (2) providing the experience of working on distributed teams (an increasingly common requirement in the workforce). Within a group project, include a component requiring individual students to submit non-onerous individual work. Choose a coordinator who will be responsible for initial communications among the group members and setting up the first meeting to discuss the assignment. The benefits of knowing how to work in small groups can also extend beyond higher education and well into the working environment. solve the to their 11. The primary reason for most students is that group work is not equitable and one or two students end up doing all the tasks. Q: How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree? Although there are challenges to online group projects, many classes require at least one such assignment. With all the analysis and research that goes into assignments, being faced with your first individual project at university can be somewhat overwhelming.. List tasks and group roles required to complete the project. Somewhere along the way, the thrill of working with friends on a fun project will inevitably subside as her coursework becomes more scholarly, and she is introduced to the concept of individual accountability as it relates to academic assessment. Here are some tips for navigating the process so the group ends up with a successful project. 6. As online learners, your time is extremely precious. A Successful Assignment . When a student feels that he or she is doing most of all of the work, then they are at risk of. Speaking in front of the whole class can be scary, and combined with the tension of speaking to the teacher, the situation can be downright terrifying to students. Getting started immediately and making a plan for tasks and communication can help diminish some of the difficulties of completing an online group project. 3. Leave a “cushion” of a few days between the scheduled completion of the project and the due date. Check out a project set up by Modern Classrooms’ co-founder, Robert Barnett, that integrates choice and family engagement: Demographer Challenge. Don’t be afraid to contact the professor if someone is not responding to communications or is missing due dates. Despite the many sources of synchronous (i.e. Group projects can be successfully completed without undue stress if the lines of communication are kept open. If structured well, group projects can promote important intellectual and social skills and help to prepare students for a work world in which teamwork and collaboration are increasingly the norm. Because learners have different learning styles or a combination of styles, online educators should design activities that include multiple modes of learning. Clearly state your expectations regarding communication, including the channels that they need to monitor and the need for them to be responsive in a timely manner. I inform students about the general characteristics of the project, how it will be different than other projects they completed, and that they can do the project individually or as a group. The project is usually huge, and requires the creation of a PowerPoint, text, and other presentation materials. The group coordinator should contact the professor immediately upon a missed deadline so that the group can be restructured or otherwise advised about how to proceed. With that said, as a professor in online learning I know that group projects are important for my students. We have the ability to engage in web conferencing, electronic long distance communication, and web-enabled mobile devices have become increasingly common. Professional Development & Consulting Services, Pearson K-12 Online & Blended Learning Community, Social justice in the physical science classroom, PolyMOMial: Solving the factors presented by a pandemic, Diversity & inclusion in the online classroom. The key in producing a successful assignment is taking into consideration the necessary characteristics and requirements for the project.. ... Assess individual learning from group projects. He then transitioned to a role as a lead academic instructional designer and curriculum subject matter expert for online course development – specializing in incorporating technology into the online classroom, while also training other faculty on how to successfully design and implement effective eLearning content. The corresponding disadvantage is having to wait for all group members to post ideas or responses to questions, completed tasks, and suggestions for changes. Using Group Projects Effectively. They help students gain multiple perspectives on a topic (I’m always a fan of the constructivist learning theory), they prepare students for workplace task forces and team-based projects, and they give students exposure to the world of project management. Group work can be a good idea when you want to get your students to think harder and dig deeper, and when some variety in skill levels and ways of thinking about things can be a benefit to all. In online group work, waiting for responses from group members holds up everyone’s ability to get work done in a timely manner. In this post, I’ll explain a few ways you can more effectively facilitate group work for your online students. LearnCube’s Online Virtual Classroom Software makes it easy to facilitate collaborative learning. Have each student pick a card without looking ), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. The key to any group project, and especially one that is completely online, is to make a schedule and meet due dates on time. Individual Touchpoints Are Game-Changers What your students will miss the most is … Online group collaboration projects also help online learners build essential life skills. complicate the teaching process and result in poorer learning outcomes Read more from Andrea about online education in our blog. Another challenge is communicating online, which has both advantages and disadvantages. A way to allay those fears is to build individual responsibility into both the course grade and the logistics of group … Group projects can often bring stress to both instructors and students. Say a big math problem with lots of different steps; or a scene in Ulysses that could be interpreted in three or 300 different ways; or you're doing a unit on Ancient Egyptand you need your students to combine their knowledge of history with an ability to an… In online groups, it is easier to ignore emails from fellow group members and miss deadlines because there is no immediate accountability such as ‘in your face” displeasure, disappointment, and even anger that happens in face-to-face communications. This section provides advice for faculty employing group projects. You are expected to produce a group project together. The typical online virtual group work project involves the following steps: The instructor assigns you to a group of three or four other students. Align group roles and responsibilities with individual strengths and interests. Group projects in online education are met with a myriad of challenges beyond the innate tendencies toward social loafing and the sucker effect. Psychologists test social loafing by measuring an individual’s output or effort (e.g. Unique Challenges. It is possible that teaching children with learning difficulties in group settings is not as undesirable as frequently indicated by those involved in the education of such children. You might consider having each member sign/submit it in the form of a group contract. When asked about online group projects, the vast majority of students state emphatically that they don’t like working in groups. One of the main appeals of online education is the flexibility that it provides to students with demanding schedules. 12. as schedule permits) mediums to collaborate with each other. Going into a group project with a positive attitude can help others in the group muster some enthusiasm as well. This happens when an individual’s output declines measurably once they join a group, presumably because they expect their team mates to pick up their slack. Teaching models should also be adapted to the new learning environments. As assignment that an individual could complete without the collaboration of others is really an individual assignment, not a group project. Efficient communication is vital for online groups. Please let us know in the comments section. This allows students to distribute the workload evenly while holding each person accountable for their deliverables. … He began his career there as an instructional designer for the Center for Academic Excellence where he led workshops on educational technologies, and created engaging tutorials and demonstrations for students and faculty. Sean Nufer, Psy.D., has worn many hats at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Perhaps it wasn’t always like this for us. Since group or individual projects only require at most a visual projection of the assignment the teacher can establish a set criteria of requirements within the instructions that require other students to review the individual and group projects and present their assessment to the teacher and/or during a joint interaction present their findings to the class on line. Group projects in education are very similar to taxes: generally we know that they are important and why they are needed, but very few people think fondly of them. Andrea Hart is an educator and writer with experience in online teaching and learning. Make sure that group projects are structured in such a way that they emphasize the collaborative component of the assignment. Group projects the problem is solved by the group of pupil in the class. Here are three advantages of each type of teaching format: Individual Classes You can tailor the material to the individual… and time zones. On a rowing machine, it is easy to mask one’s output in a group. What my daughter may encounter is the social loafing phenomenon: when an underperforming member of a group benefits from the accomplishments of the remaining group members while putting in little or no effort himself. Try mixing up the online groups in order to facilitate a more constructivist perception of the curriculum content. The key to any group project, and especially one that is completely online, is to make a schedule and meet due dates on time. Improved communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and Project Management are just some of the rewards up for grabs. Here the social, citizenship qualities and synergism are develops. Group members should note a preferred method of communication (email, group discussion area, text chat, instant messenger, conference calls, etc.) Receiving an angry email about an incomplete assigned task doesn’t have the same effect as looking someone in the face while they express resentment about having to pick up the slack because someone didn’t do their part of the work. When a group is meeting together face-to-face, it’s much more difficult to look fellow group members in the eyes and admit that you have not completed the work in time for the meeting. For some, their group contributions are far inferior to their individual performance. Also stay in contact with the professor as needed to ensure all group members are doing their share of the work and that no one group member is taking on more than his or her share. Psychologists test social loafing by measuring an individual’s output or effort (e.g. The group should meet online together at least once a week for check-ins and updates. In a Management Information Systems course students convinced me to make a key Systems Requirements assignment into a group project for teams of two that I initially assigned as individual work. Essentially, there are times when good students would rather not be suckers. There are several benefits for including group work in your class. Others may not finish in class and plan to finish at home (which may or may not happen). He eventually redefined this role when he became the institution’s eLearning specialist, where he continues to work closely with the instructional design team, faculty and executives to research industry trends and new developments in order to recommend and apply best practices to better engage and serve students. 4. Teachers’ prep time differs in collaborative and individual activities, as does the time students invest. He then transitioned to a role as a lead academic instructional designer and curriculum subject matter expert for online course development – specializing in incorporating technology into the online classroom, while also training other faculty on how to successfully design and implement effective eLearning content. However, group projects in any course can bring a number of challenges. Below are guidelines for designing online group projects: My projects are generally small in overall scope and provide individualized value to the student. Some students will finish quickly and either feel accomplished or be bored in class. In Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., & Thompson, K. Be proactive and begin setting the groundwork early. This article offers instructors recommendations for setting the tone and handling group projects in their courses. As assignment that an individual could complete without the collaboration of others is really an individual assignment, not a group project. Essentially, there are times when good students would rather not be suckers. Positive reinforcement, such as providing regular favorable feedback, can be a strong motivator while also serving to alert the student that his or her presence and efforts are being monitored. 4. The three years I did National History Day were consistent with the breakdown of individual and group projects. (Eds. Sharing these benefits with your students in a transparent manner helps them understand how group work can improve learning and prepare them for life experiences (Taylor 2011). Choose a group leader who is comfortable taking on that role. Individual exercises can be used in advance of group ones to help students navigate a “higher-risk” group activity and can be helpful for students who need more individual reflective time to learn. Group projects in face-to-face classes are challenging, but the unique medium of online communication makes online group work even more so. For some, their group contributions are far inferior to their individual performance. 3. He began his career there as an instructional designer for the Center for Academic Excellence where he led workshops on educational technologies, and created engaging tutorials and demonstrations for students and faculty. Students always worry about how the performance of other students in a group project might impact their grade. Develop a literary and narrative project that would appeal to this Middle Grade audience with depth, dignity and detail. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. Using sticky notes or index cards, list common household or school-related objects on each one. Consider mingling the following demographics in order to foster opportunities for creativity: Although it may be futile to try to abolish social loafers in our online students group entirely, the considerations listed here may help facilitate successful group work in your classes. Online education profits from a wealth of collaborative technologies. on a rowing machine) to determine a baseline of one’s capabilities, then subsequently measuring that individual’s output as part of a group. One way I minimize the sucker effect is to allow group members to genuinely get to know one another over the course of the semester. Long term projects will not eliminate the social loafers completely, but when students are invested in a more permanent group then they are more likely to be held accountable to (and respect) each other. When a student feels that he or she is doing most of all of the work, then they are at risk of the sucker effect, which is essentially when a group member sees that other people are not contributing to tasks and decides to not contribute – electing perhaps to fail as opposed to shouldering all of the work. Recognition of individual effort What they have found is that often when people are combined with others, their effort as part of a group is less than their effort when they think they are being measured individually. Whether in handouts, online resources, or discussions in class, teachers need to talk about the responsibilities members have to the group (such as how sometimes individual goals and priorities must be relinquished in favor of group goals) and about … When a group member drops off the radar and misses meetings, ignores communications, or does not complete work on time, the other group members must figure out how to get that work done. Often the students who matriculate into online programs are working adults who have jobs, families, community responsibilities, and it is likely that they span various time zones (perhaps even continents). We examine the following questions: TYPES OF PROJECT Individual and Social projects: In individual project every students problem in their own according interest, capacity, attitude and needs. My daughter in first grade is always thrilled to team up with her buddies to work on art projects and school crafts. Currently, I split my schedule between individual classes and small group classes (from 2-8 students) and people often ask me which one I prefer. Instructors say many of the fundamental characteristics of a successful group project online are consistent with what works face-to-face. A: Most students take longer than 4 years to earn their bachelor’s degree. The key to successfully navigating group projects is detailed planning and having a repertoire of troubleshooting strategies when things go wrong. Another consideration is the difficulty in getting all group members together to discuss the project because most online classes include students in multiple time zones. Create a communication plan. What they have found is that often when people are combined with others, their effort as part of a group is less than their effort when they think they are being measured individually. Teachers should spend time … Discover compelling stories impacting education today, Sean Nufer, eLearning Specialist and Adjunct Professor, Chicago School of Professional Psychology. On a rowing machine, it is easy to mask one’s output in a group. One advantage of communicating online is convenience; students can check in, post ideas, respond to others, and share files anytime during the day or night that suits individual schedules. The benefits of group work include the following: Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. 2. From a business model point of view it is also is far more efficient to deliver small group classes, so teaching small online group classes really is a win-win situation. phenomenon: when an underperforming member of a group benefits from the accomplishments of the remaining group members while putting in little or no effort himself. Students are more likely to benefit from an assignment when they find it meaningful as opposed to a perfunctory task. 5. As an instructional designer, Nufer continually worked to refine the institution’s policies and technologies regarding online learning. If each learner knows they will earn an individual grade on the group project, they will be less likely to underperform. Individual learning lets students work at their own pace, which has positives and negatives. For me, a manageable size for my online groups is typically 3-4 people. Consider having each group draft their own team charter by delineating: specific roles, responsibilities, timelines, requirements for participation, expectations for communication, etc. , Psy.D., has worn many hats at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. This is especially important in online learning where students do not see each other regularly in the classroom. The paper "Individual and Group Work in Teaching, Learning and Assessment" highlights that the main reasons group work in assessment is not accepted is due to the fact StudentShare Our website is a unique platform where students can share their papers in a … These individuals can be identified as social loafers. This can be refreshing for instructors. Breaking them up into groups not only develops social skills useful in the professional environment for which they are training, but gives them a chance to perform in a supportive environment before a test or even before having to do homework on the topic on their own. Make sure that group projects are structured in such a way that they emphasize the collaborative component of the assignment. Additionally, individual learning requires students to manage their time, which some students may not handle well. Group work also introduces more unpredictability in teaching, since groups may approach tasks and solve problems in novel, interesting ways. Buck Institute for Education has project based learning resources, such as project examples, rubrics, and student handouts. One way to mitigate this effect is to avoid assigning a group grade. He eventually redefined this role when he became the institution’s eLearning specialist, where he continues to work closely with the instructional design team, faculty and executives to research industry trends and new developments in order to recommend and apply best practices to better engage and serve students. In an academic group, outputs are promptly gauged by all team members. Promote individual responsibility. When you were a young student, you probably didn't put much thought into your learning environment, the These individuals can be identified as social loafers. Do you have any other approaches or methods that you find work well? The group may even elect a team leader. Top5OnlineColleges.org is an advertising-supported site. In an academic group, outputs are promptly gauged by all team members. Also stay in contact with the professor as needed to ensure all group members are doing their share of the work and that no … Once each individual group member begins working on his/her specific tasks for the assignment, create a document on a platform that all group members can access and work on simultaneously.