In September last year, we launched UTS Central’s large collaborative classrooms with a Festival of Learning Design. What did we learn? In the first of a series of four posts, we share our session facilitators’ learning designs and discover what they learned about facilitating sessions in these exciting spaces. 

Are you entitled to your opinion? Mary Coupland and Jenna Price say: yes, if our opinions are backed by evidence!  Their session was based on the subject Arguments, Evidence and Intuition, and the learning activities were designed to challenge our assumptions, then allow us to inquire into and present evidence for/against some contentious claims. Here are the six steps we took in this 45-minute session:

1. Individual quiz questions on our knowledge about world poverty – Mary and Jenna used Kahoot with questions from the Gapminder test , where we achieved the aim of learning that some of our assumptions might be wrong. 

2. Collaborative quiz questions in groups – discussing the answers in groups meant that we learned from different perspectives and were more likely to get the answers right.

3. A very short presentation on Simpson’s paradox – Mary gave a 3-minute presentation then a question for us to apply our understanding, with the answers recorded on a Google Form visible to all.

4. Collaborative inquiry task in groups finding pieces of evidence for and against a common claim – each colour-coded ‘zone’ (group of tables) had a different claim to investigate (eg. drinking red wine is good for you, vegetarianism will save the planet etc), and in our tables we needed to come to an evidence-based position and create a Google slide to share it. Mary and Jenna provided links to one blank Google slide set per zone.

5. One table from each zone presented their argument to the whole group – Mary and Jenna used Share mode, so that half the screens showed the slide from the chosen zone and the other half showed the camera view of the presenting group.

6. Summing up with the CRAP test (Yes, really! It’s a library resource for checking the quality of sources) and learning points.

Mary and Jenna reflect on their collaborative learning session at the Festival of Learning Design and share their group work tips

This was a packed session and a lot of fun. The learning design pattern had features in common with Michaelsen’s Team-based learning and could be used in many sessions where the aims are to get students to challenge or confirm their understanding, then apply it to a collaborative inquiry, case or problem-solving task. It will fit in a 50-minute session if there are only 2-3 key quiz questions and the application activities are designed for the time available. As Mary and Jenna emphasise, it’s important to allow time to debrief and sum up at the end. 

Are you teaching or just interested in sharing practices for large collaborative classes? You’re invited to join the UTS Large Collaborative Class learning community – for more information, contact Jo McKenzie (

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