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What Makes an Online Group Project Work?

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❶Features such as recording of synchronous exchanges and use of collaborative tools need to be understood before they take place.

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In a semester-long research project for a history course, the instructor assigns students distinct roles within their groups: The instructor rotates students through these roles, so that they each get practice performing each function.

Strategy Example Emphasize the practical importance of strong teamwork skills. Explain the value of teamwork skills in and outside the workplace by offering real-world examples of how teams function and illustrating what can go wrong when teamwork skills are weak. One instructor asks students to generate a list of skills they believe employers look for.

Often students answer this question with a set of domain-specific skills, such as drafting or computer programming. This activity serves to reinforce the process goals for group work assignments. Address negative or inaccurate preconceptions about group work. Consider asking them to list positive and negative aspects of groups based on their previous experiences and then to brainstorm strategies for preventing or mitigating potentially negative aspects of group work. Also explain how you have structured your assignment to minimize problems such as the free-rider phenomenon they may have encountered in the past.

Provide structure and guidance to help students plan. Model the process of planning for a complex task by explaining how you would approach a similar task. Build time into the project schedule that is specifically devoted to planning. Break the project down into steps or stages and set deadlines for interim deliverables, e. In addition to setting interim deadlines, give students a rough sense of how long various steps of the project are likely to take and warn them about matters they will need to attend to earlier than they might expect.

Create ground rules for group behavior or ask students to do so themselves. Group ground rules can include things such as: Find sample team contracts here… Teach and reinforce conflict-resolution skills. Disagreements within groups can provide valuable opportunities for students to develop both better teamwork skills and better end products Thompson, But conflict can also erode motivation. To help students handle disagreements and tensions productively, provide language they can use to voice objections and preferences constructively and reinforce listening skills.

Yet nurses with advanced degrees are more in demand than ever. An increased government focus on healthcare and an aging U. Distance learning programs have been around for just as long as brick and mortar colleges. Starting in the early s, teachers would send assignments to students through mail, who would complete them and mail them back to receive the next assignment.

Distance learning has come a long way since then. Today more than 10 million postsecondary students are taking online college courses. That number is expected to rise, as many brick and mortar colleges are incorporating distance learning into their programs as well.

Online nursing degrees are more than just commonplace; they are accepted and appreciated by employers. Not only are online degrees more common, but employers are beginning to recognize the fact that obtaining an online degree can only be accomplished by someone who can manage time, is motivated to work hard, and can set and achieve goals. For most working nurses who want to pursue nurse management roles or nurse instructor opportunities, an online BSN degree offers the chance to do so.

An online BSN degree offers the chance to further your education without giving up everything else in order to do so. No driving to campus, sitting in class, or rearranging work and family schedules around a rigid class curriculum.

Online BSN degrees offer flexibility in schedules, convenience to learn when you have time, and the same curriculum and training as a traditional nursing program. Today is National Student Nurse Day. The online environment, with various computer-mediated communication CMC technologies, provides new opportunities as well as challenges.

It is the goal of our paper to find out what students consider as important characteristics that make a group project work in an online learning environment. Distance learning in various forms has been around for a long time, but it was only until the past few years that it became feasible to offer online distance courses to large numbers of individuals.

Statistics indicate that increasing numbers of adult learners choose online distance learning as a way to obtain new knowledge, to keep up with the changing world around them, or to continue their life-long learning NCE, The open-ended learning environments provide an authentic, situated and self-directed learning experience with the electronic tools and resources Hannafin, Hill and Land, Based on their research findings, experienced online instructors and practitioners recommend that the main indicator of success in online teaching and learning is a well-designed course that fosters interactivity through the creation of a virtual learning community Bender, ; Collison et al.

That is, the active communication, interaction, online presence, moderated discussions, and formation of an online learning community are the key elements for high quality online education.

Problem-based learning PBL is one of the educational methodologies that have emerged from traditional classroom practice as a successful approach to strengthen learning. Therefore, designing distance learning experiences with PBL can be one of the alternatives by which institutions provide equal quality distance education to their populations.

In online distance learning environments, synchronous and asynchronous CMC and its technologies becomes the default means tot mediate most interactions among students separated in space or time.

The course lasted one semester and was conducted completely online using Blackboard. The course explored two major themes: The course assignments included class discussions, individual reflection journals, and a small-group PBL project. The course was facilitated by one instructor and two teaching assistants. Thirty-two students were enrolled in the course. Most were graduate students from a communication and instructional technology program. Some students already held jobs in the fields of education or educational technology.

Twenty-six of the 32 students participated in the collaborative problem-based learning experience. The 26 students self-grouped themselves into four groups of four students each and two groups of five students each.

The criterion for the voluntary self-selection into a group was common interest in the types of learning environments to be supported by CMC e. Students were asked to share some past group project experiences in a discussion forum at the beginning of the semester as a way to be prepared for the coming online PBL projects: Some open-ended questions were used as conversation starters: What did you like or dislike about a past group project experience?

What do you think makes a group project meaningful for your learning? Twenty-three students posted their ideas for a period of 16 days. We each analyzed the responses independently and then came together to exchange ideas about similarities and differences of our analyses. Using open coding and computer-mediated discourse analysis methods Herring, , we agreed on initial categories that students deemed important for a group project.

Fifteen students provided an overall appraisal of their previous group work experience. Student statements regarding past group experiences focused on obstacles to group work or suggestions to achieve success.

Focus, group dynamics, time management, leadership and facilitation, communication policy, commitment, formation of groups, dependencies, grading policy, flexibility, and work ethics were mentioned as important factors that helped make group work successful. Students were first encouraged to share their preferences and ideas regarding potential themes for group work during the second week of classes.

Groups were more or less officially constituted by the fifth week. During this time interval, they also had the chance to begin exchanging ideas synchronously and consolidating groups by using chat tools. Once the groups were appropriately constituted, small group work focused on further defining the problem from the ill-defined alternative prompts that were provided. Design a new CMC tool or technology platform for educational purposes e.

Create a conceptual CMC model for teaching and learning purposes. Design an online course for students in K12 or higher education environment. Propose a CMC implementation plan for a classroom, a school, a company, or an organization. Students further defined the types of learning contexts for which they wanted to design CMC support. This included audience, technology access, computer literacy and communication needs.

This process of problem definition and refining culminated with submission of a project proposal by each of the groups on the sixth week. The proposal had a dual purpose: One concern that was identified in most of the proposals was the need to reduce the scope of the projects based on time constraints enforced by length of the course. After the groups received their feedback on the proposal, they began making decisions on the communication theories that would describe the communication settings of their target audience and those that would help justify the adoption of particular CMC technologies to satisfy those communication needs.

The accessibility of the personal e-mail and the synchronous capabilities of the instant messenger tools helped facilitate this part of the process. Synchronous tools were used primarily to get together and brainstorm ideas for the project. Asynchronous tools were mainly used to exchange results of individual work between synchronous meetings.

The submission of a process report at the end of this stage ninth week represented another milestone in the PBL process. At this point, feedback focused on ensuring that the relevant communication theories were referenced and that the communication tools selected by students were appropriate to satisfy the communication needs that had been previously identified. The final stage of group work entailed further refining the decisions made in earlier stages as well as incorporating new ideas from theories and tools that were deemed relevant at this point.

E-mail was the tool that was ranked as first or second most useful tool for this stage of the process by most of the students.

Students incorporated the feedback suggestions and finalized their projects for presentation to and feedback from the rest of their classmates by the twelfth week. The final three weeks of course work were dedicated to provide peer feedback about the projects as well as to reflect and assess the overall experience. The process took approximately seven weeks to the completion of projects in addition to the three initial weeks during which students began exchanging ideas about potential projects during the group formation process.

At the end of the learning process, students commented on their experience participating in an online collaborative assignment. Overall, students used enthusiastic words to characterize it e.

Five students went further to describe this as a better online experience or the best they have had.

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When it comes to online learning, Michelle Covert has one message for instructors: Stop assigning so much group work. Covert, who completed an online master’s in higher education administration.

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Group work for class projects can sometimes be difficult, especially for online students. Follow these useful tips to help guide your online group project!

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Online group collaboration projects also help online learners build essential life skills. Improved communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and Project Management are just some of the rewards up for grabs. But, when you had to work with the same individuals on an online group project, it was another issue altogether. How to Survive Virtual Group Work. Most e-learners have mixed feelings about virtual group work and the activities they've had to do with their classmates. Perhaps you've had the same experience: you loved going to the discussion.

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One of the pros of an online group projects is that it gives classmates time to work together and get to know one another better and bond together. When you take online courses you are on . A group is a collection of users who have the same security requirements in Microsoft Office Project Web Access. By adding users to groups, you can significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend managing their individual permissions.