Jo Arney, UW-LaCrosse, shared her model for online active group projects, which she uses in her distance learning courses on political science and public administration.
She received a faculty development grant to look at active learning online. The literature didn't yield much, so she developed her own model.
She gives a Reading quiz first so all participants are at a basic starting point. Then the five following steps:
Step one: objectives
Two: group projects
Three: dissemination (this is what we did, this is out how it relates to the class)
Four: self and peer assessment
Five: individual exam (essay)
Example: in her Intro to State and Local govt. class, which has 25 students, she has 5 different group projects:
1) Wise Wikis-come up with key terms concepts
2) Know-it-alls-critical thinking question related to ideology, sum up discussion
3) Heads of State-design a courts system
4) News Room-current events
5) Think Tank-find data related to specific question
Step Three: dissemination. She gives them freedom to choose venue (newsletter, wiki)
Step Four: assessment: general rubric, individual and group. (first post up by 11:59 on Wednesday, etc.) Groups assess each other and their own group. This is important to the success of the projects.
Five: Exam reflects what the group projects and readings reveal.
In her Intro to Public Administration which is a Four week course, instead of all students doing group projects, she has one group go each week. She randomly chooses group members. Groups work on discussion boards.
Jo was a lively presenter, and committed teacher. There was a vigorous exchange after about whether students want group work or need group work online. Jude from U of M pharmacy (see photo), raised the point that we do group work all the time and don't have the option of not doing it. It's a good thing for students to struggle and collaborate.
I think I'm going to integrate at least one group project in my hybrid online world lit. course. I'll make it low stakes enough to not burden the students as they and i learn the technology, but enough points to honor their process and end product. Thoughts on online group projects? Experiences?