Yesterday I went to a great session by FIU Online instructional Designers Luis Alvarado and Erika Huezo. The session was "We're in this together: Leveraging online collaboration." The presenters had good content, but what really brought the bacon to the table was the exchange of best practices to foster collaboration towards the end of their presentation. (OMG, collaboration at a presentation on collaboration... Be still my heart. Most of the audience contributions focused on technology/tools to integrate to affect collaboration. However, what was missing from the conversation was general group dynamics support.
At least 3/4 of the classes that I support are undergrad and at least half of that are foundation or gateway/feeder courses. We assume students know how to work in groups or have worked in groups before. In part that isn't always the case because what they really need is to work successfully in effective groups. What we find is students don't have those experiences. As a department we've developed generic tips on working in a group- but I go further. Beyond chunking complex or extended assignments with milestone assignments, what guidance do you provide students about how to be an effective team?
Usually before or during a group's first meeting, students need to develop groups norms and define communications channel. They should review the project/assignment and break it down by task/dates. Then they should do an strength or inventory survey before assigning tasks. Having a leader or project manager is helpful for accountability. Basically if you had to do this assignment, how would you tackle it? What does it require to be sucessful for this project?
What tools or content have you found to be sucessful to foster collaboration?
On another note, Luis will be presenting on best practices in online higher IDs at Innoved Conference in Miami, "Research Says."