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.

Online Education PlatformBenefits of Taking Student Driven Projects Online:

  • 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.

Online Education PlatformOnline Education PlatformOnline Education PlatformStudents can do an oral presentation and present posters or you can have them create a free flash website using Wix has templates that are super easy to use!

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.

Online Education Platform

Online Education Platform

Online Education Platform

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.

Online Education Platform


Online Education Platform

Online Education Platform

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.

Online Education Platform

Online Education Platform

Online Education Platform

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!

Online Education Platform

Online Education PlatformOnline Education Platform

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!

3 Responses

  1. Wow. What an innovative way to think of education and technology. I’m very impressed. Are most teachers integrating this kind of learning into their classes?

  2. Hi Catlin. I want to ‘blend’ my classroom and I really liked some of the things on your classroom site as seen through your “How to Engage Students Online” Webinar. Can I access your classroom site? I haven’t been able to find it through web searches, just this site.

    I’d like to see how a collaborize site can be set up. THANKS!

    • Blending instruction really maximizes your ability to do student-centered activities and achieve higher levels of engagement both in and outside the classroom. Let me know if you have specific questions.


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