Small collaborative tasks foster active involvement and responsibility from learners. Learning is visible to other groups (via the showcase) to increase interaction and engagement. Learner contributions (texts and diagrams) display learners' understanding.
Ten recommendations when designing group tasks
Group tasks vary between cohorts and course topics. Learner participation is crucial. Consider these ten recommendations* when designing them.
- Be transparent about the purpose of the task and your expectations
- Provide clear instructions including timelines, and desired outcome.
- Only use group tasks if there is value in learners working together.
- Design tasks so that learners have the opportunity to apply principles and knowledge.
- Make clear that individual success is dependent on group success - encourage and motivate participation as much as possible.
- Ensure learners have sufficient experience before the task.
- Form groups early to show membership and enable learners to plan.
- Create space for learners to autonomously choose their approach to the task.
- Schedule to monitor the task discussion and provide feedback.
- Accommodate varying schedules and time zones.
Create small collaborative groups
First Learning Manager (LM) groups are used to manually group students into smaller cohorts. These groups can be used to create small collaborative groups.
The course team provides support for each group’s work by assigning ‘mentors’ who can facilitate; monitor and intervene as needed (see facilitation below). Allocate mentors when setting up the Learning Manager group.
Learners can be removed from the Learning Manager group after the course has been added. This does not remove them from the corresponding study group or small group collaborative tasks if they’ve already joined.
Learners join their small collaborative group
Once set up learners are able to join their small collaborative group when visiting the first step, or the three steps of the task within the course (see below).
Learners can still be removed from the Learning Manager group after the course has been added. This won’t remove them from the corresponding small collaborative group study group if they’ve already joined it.
The three steps that make up a small collaborative group mirror the experience of working in a group setting. Request groups steps to be added by contacting your Partnership Manager.
Set the task for learners and provide each group a shared workspace and discussion area to liaise with each other on the task .
Use the deadline to set a date/time when all groups’ contributions will be visible via the Showcase step.
Allocated mentors within the course team can:
- set/define group tasks.
- add a deadline.
- @mention all / any learners.
- encourage and support via discussion.
- mark the step as complete (for themselves, not on behalf of the whole group)
- see other group members (and if they have marked as complete).
- submit, edit and delete their contributions within the shared workspace
- comment, like, reply, @mention in private group discussion.
2. Personal reflection
This step is optional.
Personal reflections provide a private space for learners to reflect on their participation in the group task. The course team cannot view learners reflections.
Learners can explore every other group’s contributions in the third step of a small collaborative task. This mimics an on-campus showcase. Individual learners contributions are not identified and group discussions are not shown. The submission and submitted date are automatically displayed.
When setting up a group task, a showcase step is created. A single course run might have one or more group tasks. Each task has an associated showcase.
When setting up a group task:
- Allow time between the task and showcase.
- Remind learners, in the showcase step, of the task and its purpose.
Before the deadline learners can preview how their work will be shared.
- In Course Creator within the course run, visit the facilitation tab in the top right.
- Select small group tasks.
- This dashboard is useful for the course team who are facilitating and monitoring multiple groups.
The course team, with facilitation permission to Course Creator, can view:
- a list of all groups (does not need Learning Manager permission to see this screen)
- each group workspace
- the due date for task
- the course team member assigned to each group
- learners and their allocated group
- # of contributions made per group
- # of comments made per group
- # of completions for each group
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our Glossary
* Recommendations adapted from:
Brindley, Walti, Blaschke 2009 Brindley, J. E., Walti, C., & Blaschke, L. M. (2009, June). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,10(3).