Five Elements that Promote Learner Collaboration and Group Work in Online Courses

This is a great article because it is not just about using technology but developing the skills of technology, the language of technology, and the ability to operate in a digital exchange.

Online Learning Insights

woman teaching “Foundational elements” iStock

This is the first article in a three-part series featuring strategies and skill development for instructors wanting to create, facilitate and encourage collaboration among students working in groups. The strategies discussed in this series are specific to closed, small, online, for-credit courses, though the principles discussed regarding student needs’ and barriers to group work online are universal to almost all formats of online learning experiences.

“Successful group processes include the ability to problem-solve, work effectively with others, communicate orally and in writing, and manage resources including time and responsibility to project outcomes. Implementation of group work in online classrooms may be stymied by faculty members who struggle with effective implementation of group work…”  Facilitation of Online Group Projects: Insights from Experienced Faculty Members (2012)

This series is in response to the need that exists for professional development for online instructors, specifically for the skills…

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Learn How to Code

I know what you are thinking. There is no way I am going to code. I don’t even know how to set up a blog let alone code. I don’t even know what it means to code. Well, that may all be true but the fact is your kids do know what it means and if it is important to them it should at least be of interest to you. www.codecademy.com is a FREE site where anyone can learn to code. I have started to work through the course just because I am interested in such things. Anyone with an internet connection and a computer can learn coding on the site. It is a great resource for teachers that want to develop their own APPs or teachers that want  use coding in a classroom project. I highly recommend it and I will let you know when my first APP is out.

I Don’t Have Time to Start a Website

One of the most common comments I get from teachers at a technology in-service in August is, ” I wish I had known about this before the summer.” What they mean is they wish they had the information before they went on summer vacation so they could have played with the idea, website, technology, and decided how to use it in their classroom. I do understand the frustration here. The start of the year is a great time to start a new website, wiki, or blog. After all we are trained to think of classroom management and curriculum as a linear, day one implementation. So why not the use of a new technology?

As a secondary person that has launched the use of all kinds of technology in my classroom there is no perfect timing. August and September are always busy with start-up. Suddenly you are busy with grades, and projects, and other duties through November. Before you know it  you are thinking, who wants to work on a website over Thanksgiving, and you just want to make it to Christmas after that. In January it seems like a good time to start that website or blog, but you have that research paper, project, etc. you are working on with the students, Before you know it, it is spring break and you are not doing anything over spring break because you need, well, a break. In April you are near the end of the year and do not feel like starting anything new. By May you are counting the days till you are off for the summer. So, you see, there is no “perfect time” to learn and implement a new technology like the present.

So, here is what I want you to take from this:

1. NOW is the perfect time to play with that website/blog/wiki you were going to build.

2. Pick one technology tool and get good at it. Think about ways it will benefit your students.

3. Find a good site to follow to learn PD. My favorite is twitter, but you can use any of them.

4. Find out what resources your district may provide to you: Atomic learning, Adobe 9, edmoto, etc.

5. Have FUN. So many of the education technology sites out there are easy you just have to dive in.