Given the sudden shift to remote teaching and learning, you might view group work as a bit too difficult or unnecessary to implement right now. But when you think about it, students are already doing their group work online, and have been for some time now. Facebook, Whatsapp, Slack – these are just some of the platforms students are already using to collaborate with their peers. 

And you too can facilitate collaborative learning online. By taking a little bit time, you can design your online teaching to support students throughout the group work process. Below are four examples of how your UTS colleagues are implementing group work online. Have a read and see how these simple solutions can work for you too. 

1. Online group discussion in Canvas – Migration Law

Christine Giles, Faculty of Law, has adapted some common group work strategies like Think-Pair-Share in teaching Australia’s Visa System to Migration Law students. Christine has been able to structure group work activities with two back-to-back discussions in Canvas: the first one is a group discussion where students work in small groups, the second one being an all-class discussion where assigned group leaders summarise the group’s work to the rest of class and the tutor gives general feedback.

The setup for a group discussion activity in Australia’s Visa System

2. Case work and roleplaying in Zoom – Genetic Counselling

Alison McEwen from the Graduate School of Health has implemented group work in the weekly live and online workshops in Zoom for Communications and counselling subject in Genetic Counselling. These weekly live and online workshops provide students with opportunities to participate in discussion, role play and problem-based learning activities utilising the breakout rooms in Zoom. Students work in pairs and small groups discussing cases and participate in role play activities to assist with the development of counselling skills. For a deeper dive into how these activities can be implemented in Zoom, watch our recent webinar Experiences of doing group work in the remote learning environment.

3. Collaborating with online documents – Speech Pathology

The Master of Speech Pathology have been able to leverage the use of collaborative authoring tools in order to scaffold students through the creation of shared resources. Students have collaborated on documents, presentations and spreadsheets in both prework and in live and online classes, seeing the value of their contribution, both to their own acquisition of knowledge, as well as the collective knowledge of the class more broadly.

Students create topic summaries and share back to the class using collaborative presentations

4. Sharing content on Microsoft Teams – Chemistry

Morgan Philp from the Faculty of Science coordinates a large practical subject of over 800 students. Morgan uses Teams to share weekly content for students outlining experiments and practicals. In the move to teaching remotely, Morgan and her teaching team have been using Microsoft Teams extensively to provide a space for class collaboration and interaction, as well as to provide a space for students to conduct group calls. Students meet in small groups to work on their prac work in the tutorial group Teams site so that the tutor can “stop by” and join their groups to provide feedback and answer questions, mimicking the group work of on-campus pracs.

Find out more

To get some guidance on implementing successful group work have a look at Managing group work online in the Remote Teaching toolkit.

You can also further explore the opportunities of online teaching by enrolling in the Postgraduate Learning Design team’s short course Moving to online teaching which includes more inspiring case studies and group work templates.

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