Research with groups suggests that students work best when they are made up of four or five members. Larger teams become unwieldy and difficult to coordinate while smaller teams usually lack the resources to do a thorough job. As you continue to build your course, keep these questions in mind:
What benefits can you students get out of group activities?
What strategies you can use to foster and motivate your students working as groups?
Benefits of Using Groups
It is believed that working in a group enables students to develop their group/team working skills which are often essential in the workplace today. The research results indicate that group working can often achieve more than an individual working alone.
The benefits of group working include:
To achieve an objective that an individual may not be able to do alone
To manage time and meet deadlines
To divide work up fairly, so it takes less time to achieve the objective than if an individual was working alone
To obtain the most from the experience, develop a range of skills, and increase knowledge
To motivate and encourage each other
To share ideas and develop problem solving skills
To satisfy 'social interaction' needs
To create collaborative learning environments in which working adults can share the practical knowledge that comes from life and work experiences.
To allow students to broaden and deepen the understanding of concepts explored in the classroom.
To serve as laboratories through which students develop into effective leaders and members of workplace teams.
To improve the quality of group projects and assignments.
To serve as vehicles for reflection, by which adult students make sense of and apply new knowledge.
To provide a sense of community and support that is invaluable in helping working adults cope with the challenge of balancing school with other life demands.
As member of a group, students have access to a number of features for working together and communicating with each other:
Announcements: group members can post announcements to the group and automated announcements will appear for some group activities, including individual messages.
Pages. Just as you can create pages for everyone, group members can do the same to create shared content for their group, however there are no Modules within groups and group pages can be edited by all group members.
Discussions. Group discussions have essentially the same features as discussion you create, but limited to the group.
Files. File sharing, quite useful for Word, PowerPoint, etc., but can be used for just about any file type
Groups are quite useful for students to work together without any particular assignment involved or out of which students submit their own individual assignments using the Assignment types we've already covered.
However, groups can also be used for Group Assignments, in which a single submission is made for all the members of a group. See the next page of this module for details.
When creating groups, each group is placed in a Group Set. These sets of groups can then be used to create Group Assignments. For example, you might have:
A Group Set called Final Presentation, within which you have
Seven different groups, manually assigned or to which students signed up, and
A single Group Assignment that is assigned to every group in which they submit a presentation, perhaps as a PowerPoint file, a link to another site, etc.