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Online groupwork

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Introduction to online groupwork

There are lots of ways that you can collaborate in groupwork online:

Short tasks & discussion

Your modules may have some short collaborative tasks or discussions. These could be:

  • scheduled online discussion in video calls you organise yourselves or breakout groups within timetabled online sessions.
  • text-based discussion using discussion boards or Padlets in the VLE site, or other text-based tools.

These discussions are generally quite informal. They might help you prepare for seminars, review topics, or complete other tasks to support your learning for the module.

Projects & assignments

You may also have longer collaborative projects to:

  • complete collaborative reports or assignments.
  • create a group wiki, blog or other site.
  • deliver a group presentation.

These longer-term projects might form part of the assessment for your module.

This page has tips on planning and managing groupwork online, particularly for ongoing projects and assignments.

Communicating with your group online

First, you need to agree how you're going to communicate to complete your group work. Your tutor may want you to do this in a certain way, so check your instructions carefully.

Make sure you choose tools that all group members can use easily:

  • video calls can be difficult if someone has a poor internet connection or doesn't have a suitable working space.
  • some tools might be hard to use for people with a certain disability or condition.
  • caring/other responsibilities might affect when people can participate.

Video conferencing tools

These let you talk in real-time, so are useful for scheduled discussions.

Your tutor might set up a group Collaborate Ultra room for you to use for project discussions:

You can also set up your own video calls in Google Meet or Zoom:

Text-based communication tools

These tools let you contribute at a time that's good for you, so are useful if your group members are available at different times and for general project chat. You can also go back and review what was said at any time.

You can use your UoY email or other messaging tools:

Alternatively, your tutor might set up a group Discussion Board for you to use:

Having effective group discussions

Tips for having effective group discussions:

Planning online projects

Good planning is key to a successful group project! It'll help you get everything done on time and save a lot of stress.

You should think about:

  • what tasks need to be completed?
  • who's going to do each task?
  • when does each task need to be completed?

Project planning and management

Padlet could also be a useful tool for planning your group project. For example, you could use it to mind map together or assign each group member tasks. 

Shelf format Padlet showing module content organised into a column for each week.

Scheduling

You could also use Google Calendar to schedule meetings (face-to-face or using Google Meet) and project deadlines. 

Creating an event in Google Calendar [YouTube video]

Creating collaborative documents

There are lots of ways to share and create collaborative documents. Check your instructions carefully, as your tutor might specific what they want you to create.

Google Drive, Docs, Sheets & Slides

There's loads of collaborative features in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

The most obvious is that you can simultaneously edit (none of that Read Only Copy stuff you get with Office when someone else is in a file).

You can also comment on sections of a document, or suggest changes, and chat with other people editing the document at the same time.

Find out more:

Wikis & Blogs

An alternative is to create a collaborative Wiki or Blog in the VLE. Your tutor will set this up for you:

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