Thursday, February 22, 2007

Virtual Groups in Online Courses

Hey folks, Bev here. Na will be back soon (next week), but left me with a message that she wanted me to post for her in her absence. So, here goes...

Virtual group activities are important tools in the online class, in which students learn in both a constructivist and social approach. In other words, students learn both from their own practice and from the teamwork and communication of the group.

For those who are interested in using virtual groups in your online courses, consider reading the article, Virtual Group Problem Solving in the Basic Communication Course: Lessons for Online Learning. Below is the abstract:

Skepticism about online instruction often erroneously blames the electronic medium for shortcomings in instructional design or technique. This essay discusses the performance expectations for fully online group problem-solving via threaded discussion boards. Four years of administering this assignment in a basic oral communication course yield detailed instructional guidelines that enrich the online learning experience and fulfill general education competency mandates. Experiences with online group problem-solving should encourage educators to adapt to technological innovations in pedagogy.

(Roy Schwartzman. Virtual Group Problem Solving in the Basic Communication Course: Lessons for Online Learning. Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2006.)

In the appendix, several virtual group activities are suggested. Although the application of virtual groups discussed in this article involves communication courses, the idea can be applied to many other disciplines, too.

Have you used virtual groups in your online course? Do you have any thoughts on using virtual groups? Please share your experiences in the comments area. We will also be hosting more discussion on virtual groups in the future.
[Na Wu, Feb 1, 2007]

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