Top tips for introducing online group work

Formal staff-selected or informal student-selected groups

  • It is helpful to distinguish between whether your students’ group work will be formally initiated and overseen by yourselves or more informally selected and led by students
  • Consider what level of your supervision and involvement would be most helpful in line with the purpose of the group work or peer learning tasks- who will define the purpose, agendas and boundaries of the group work? If the purpose is to meet module learning outcomes and assessed tasks you are likely to be more involved in organising and assigning groups and activities and it will be helpful to organise a timeline of check-ins and deadlines with each of the groups
  • Student-only online spaces are particularly beneficial for peer learning, giving students opportunities to revisit course material, set their own objectives and build confidence, with the privacy to make mistakes, learn from one another and socialise

Some further reflections on the different approaches to organising students into groups.

Online ‘synchronous’ meet-ups

  • Consider (but don’t rely solely on) suggesting synchronous meet ups in Teams such as a video call, conference call, or live chat – in the same way that face-to-face groups function, the online group might need an agenda, some ground rules, someone ‘chairing’ or taking the lead, keeping everyone to time.
  • Consider the group size – in PASS sessions we suggest 10-15 students, but smaller sizes would likely be more manageable and productive online
  • Remind students of creating a safe and friendly environment – begin with a short check-in with participants to see how everyone’s doing – and to close the session, everyone shares one thing that went well, and one thing to change or do next session
  • Source: Akron Library

We are supporting the use of Microsoft Teams as the software for enabling online collaboration and group work.

Asynchronous or ‘offline’ group work

  • Tutors could set up a discussion board, chat facility, or encourage students to do this. Posing a question, quiz, or prompt such as a video or article can help to focus group activity
  • Suggesting weekly activities can help students keep momentum, but might be an idea to check-in to see if students are feeling overwhelmed if they have lots of other commitments

Further advice on reasons and strategies for fostering online peer learning using technology can be found here:


NEXT STEP – Establishing ground rules, roles and milestones for group work >>>



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