Teamwork that works

Carolina has a problem with group work in her class. The students sometimes become bored with repetitive texts where knowledge is merely regurgitated. She would like to create the conditions where students really do work together, enhancing their learning and using their own experiences as a complement to each other.

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Too many times, she has seen students immediately divide up the task, where each person takes one part to work on, and then throwing the product together at the end without very much interaction taking place at all between the members of the group. No real learning occurs within the group. She would ideally like to see more time spent on discussion and problem solving together. When students turn in the assignment, she would also like to know who did what.

Educational technologists recommend

There are many advantages with group work, for example that students can work with projects that are more complex than those that could be done by an individual. However, a group task needs creative thinking and a careful planning. The Educational technologists have several ideas that with the help of digital tools, can lead to more effective group work.  

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Inform the students that there will be group assignments at the start of the course, and of your expectations from them. It is important to tell them about common problems that come up during a group assignment and how you plan to handle them. Divide the students into groups with the help of Ping Pong’s Project groups.  Make sure they have enough time to meet each other and give them access to Ping Pongs To-do lists and Calendar so they can schedule meeting times. You can also create virtual group rooms with Ping Pong’s Discussion forum so group members can stay in contact with each other. If it is a very large project, consider arranging at least one campus meeting with ice-breaking activities so that group members can get to know each other before they begin working on the assignment.

It is important to have regular contact with groups to check on their progress to help with any conflicts that come up and to give feedback. This can be accomplished in the discussion forum, or possibly with the help of social media or by arranging a meeting in a virtual room such as Zoom.

Students can learn from each other by being a part of the evaluation process with peer assessment of other groups. Even with group work, it can sometimes be necessary to set individual grades, if for example, it becomes apparent that not everyone is equally active. To ascertain who has done what, students can write their reflections in the form of an online journal or blog that you can read periodically. An evaluation of how the group assignment went can be done at the end of a project with the survey function in Ping Pong.

KIB’s educational technologists can help you with everything, from using Ping Pong, to advice on arranging virtual meetings. Contact us for more information or for a personal coaching session.

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