Using an online component to complement in-class work makes it much easier to facilitate meaningful group work.
Prior to adopting and integrating online discussions, I struggled to facilitate group work that really worked. When facilitating group work in the classroom, I often struggled with:
- Unfocused conversations
- Not enough time
- No equity in contributions
- Hard to gauge who is contributing
- Lack of access to information in classroom
- Disappointing finished product
When I integrated online discussions using Collaborize Classroom – a free online education platform – I found it was so much easier to engage students in group work.
- Less anxiety
- Equity of voice
- Embedded modeling
- Asynchronous flexibility
- No need to physically meet outside of class
- More time to work together
- Easy to assess quality of participation
- Stronger finished product
5 Student-Driven Project Structures:
1. Expert Group Investigations
Let your students be the expert on a topic! This project allows teachers to move from lecture to student investigations on subjects related to your class. It encourages adaptive expertise which builds student confidence in encountering new information, while teaching research and collaboration online.
2. Web Quests Without the Hassle
Take the best online resources and embed them into the safe space of your learning platform. This shifts the focus from finding the information to exploring and discussing it. Teachers can embed photos, maps, graphs, video clips, art work, PDFs and documents into your topics then design dynamic discussion questions to get students thinking more deeply about the information presented.
3. Reciprocal Learning Project
Pairing students and presenting them with a concept, challenge, scenario or topic to discuss encourages them to see each other as valuable resources in the classroom. It also creates a support network for students both inside and outside of the class. It is often easier for students to identify what they know, what they don’t know and what they need to find out when they are having a conversation.
4. Multimedia Mashup:
Tap into student interest by asking them to pair music, videos, and/or photography with content. Using media to connect with the subject teaches media literacy too. Students must think about the impact and affects of media in addition to analyzing how the media they have chosen relates to the subject matter.
5. Challenge Based Learning Project
This is one of the best examples of project based learning I have ever seen. This idea out of Apple engages students in authentic, real world problem solving that teaches students that they have the capacity to have a positive impact on their community.
Challenge Based Learning requires that students:
- Ask questions – inquiry based
- Problem solve
- Collaborate on real world issues and solutions
- Recognize their ability to have an impact
- Communicate with peers respectfully
- Leverage technology
This makes learning relevant and interesting!
If you have ideas for how you might use these project structures with your students, please add your ideas to the Wall Wisher site I created!