Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Facilitating team projects, part of Teaching with Technology.
- We've looked at collaborative learning and small group work in the classroom, but sometimes team projects require students to work together outside of class. Sure, you can give students time in class to work with their teams, however, that may not be enough time to finish the project, or your class meetings may be booked solid with other activities. There are plenty of online tools that would let students work together, but which one is best? It may even be more than one tool. Let's look at just a few of the tasks that a team perform throughout a project. Discuss the project or ask questions.
Conduct research and share it. Make collaborative contributions. Create drafts. Provide peer review. Track individual and team progress. Showcase the final product. And evaluate both product and process. Of course, it helps if students can complete multiple team project tasks using a single technology environment. Let's not make that a requirement, though. Instead, let's pick the best tools for the job and then see how many can be done in the same environment.
Even though learning management systems like Moodle, Blackboard, or Canvas, have many tools in one box, the project still might require using multiple tools. For example, students might use discussion forums for Q and A, chat or virtual classrooms for meetings, and wikis for contributions and peer review. Similarly, Google has a lot of apps that work for team projects. Students can use Google+ Hangouts for meetings when they can't get together in person, and Google Docs to construct drafts and provide peer-review comments.
To supplement or substitute for these environments with multiple tools, let's look at the best technologies for our tasks. In many cases, the best tool for one task can support other tasks, too. Social networking tools like Facebook groups, blogs like WordPress, and online discussion tools such as Piazza, all work well for student teams to hold asynchronous discussions or ask each other questions. All three also support sharing files and drafts, peer-review comments, and even showcasing the final product.
In another chapter I talked about collaborative annotation tools like Classroom Salon, and social bookmarking tools like Diigo, that also support annotation. Allow students to use one of these to share outside research they find for the project. For collaborative contributions, consider Twitter, Flickr or Pinterest for students to share images and comment on how they relate to the team project. Box.com allows students to share files and make comments about files or folders. Old versions of the files are saved, in case the team wants to go back. If you want students to create collaborative presentations, then tools like VoiceThread allow multiple people to contribute to the same project.
Each student can upload images or slides for the presentation, and can provide text or audio comments for each individual slide as additional content or to provide peer review. Help students track individual and team progress with online to-do lists, such as wedoist.com. Wedoist also allows file sharing and can be integrated with Google accounts. The format for the final product may help decide how to showcase it. No matter what technologies you allow students to use for your team projects, though, make sure your project instructions outline your expectations.
Additionally, remember to caution students to check the sharing settings for each tool. If they keep their settings public, anyone can see their work, and possibly their profile, too. Let's look at a showcase example. If your students use VoiceThread or a screencast tool to create the final product, then you might require a separate script to make sure students complete a writing requirement. If they use eportfolio tools like Pathbrite, ask the team to create a space highlighting not only the final product but drafts, peer review, and reflective statements about the process.
Now, I've covered a boatload of tools that your students can use for team project tasks, so I've included an Exercise File called Team Project Tools in the Chapter 6 folder. Before reviewing the next movie, take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself. What team project tasks will students be able to complete virtually? How many tasks can students accomplish with one tool? Is it a tool the students already know how to use? And, what is the final product that student teams will produce?
Author Kevin Kelly explains how learning outcomes can be adapted to support technology in the classroom, and guides educators through selecting the appropriate technology for their activity, module, or class. Then he shows how to apply technology in three key areas: finding, creating, and sharing content with students; facilitating classroom activities; and assessing learning inside the classroom or online.
- Including technology in your learning outcomes
- Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles
- Finding and creating content and instructional materials
- Enhancing lectures and presentations with technology
- Getting students involved
- Facilitating in-class activities
- Assessing learning
- Teaching effectively online