“This is a great unit I am doing now for my degree. The lecturer has put as in groups and we will be working together on mini projects. I love that idea of working and learning with others. My only problem is that I am not that much on campus as I have other commitments. So meeting everybody might be a problem… How can I make this work for me and my group? I really don’t want to let them down. I want to contribute and do this together with the rest of the group. Would they want to see me on the weekend? Could I really ask that? We could use email? Perhaps I should ask them.”
Reflection and Link to my own Practice
Although academics, students and employers see the value of group work, students still have concerns about it. One of the major issues that students have with group work, is who contributes what? Who is doing the ‘heavy lifting’ ? and Who is freeloading ?. I recently ‘storified’ a number of tweets created from the hashtag #groupwork, which I think provides an overview of the pros and cons of collaboration from a student perspective.
Using a wiki for collaborative projects
By using online tools for collaborative work, students can contribute remotely, however it also allows for digital tracking of the contributions each individual has made. I used a wiki to support problem-based learning (PBL). Students could provide regular updates to the wiki, and share resources with the rest of the group. Each contribution was tagged with the author’s name, and date, making it easy for the tutor to ‘observe’ and monitor the PBL process. This was particularly important for a PBL exercise, as it meant the tutor could provide additional scaffolding , if required, without being overtly present. The screenshot of the wiki shows the pages that the students created in the first stages of independent study which includes a glossary and identification of further resources they planned to explore. Finally the wiki could be used as a reporting mechanism for the project.
This project was done with PC’s, I would be interested if anyone has done something similar using a mobile or tablet apps.
A paper describing this work and other uses of technology to support PBL is available here:
Using Web 2.0 Technology to support Problem Based Learning