Group Assignments

The nature of online courses can present challenges to collaboration.  Online group interaction and conversation don’t occur naturally, as they do in face-to-face classrooms.  Instead, collaboration must be planned and managed intentionally.2  Many strategies in Group Work can apply to your online course, but here are some specific strategies for creating a successful online environment for group collaboration.

  • Make group work mandatory.  Clearly outline group work expectations in the syllabus, as well as in assignment instructions.1
  • Provide plenty of advance notice for group assignments.  Online students, with their asynchronous scheduling, need more time to coordinate schedules, plan group work, and get used to working together.1
  • Create a discussion forum for each group to have a space to talk about their assignment, to plan, and to share information and resources with each other.1
  • Be responsive to group work.  Post comments, check in with groups for updates, or ask questions to let students know their work is not being ignored.1
  • Choose your collaboration tools carefully, and consider how you will ask groups to submit their final work.  Depending on your assignment and learning outcomes, you could use discussion boards, blogs, wikis, or others.2,3
  • Remember that all assignments should be based on your learning outcomes.  Make sure your assignment design and your choice of tools are best suited to your targeted learning outcomes.2,4