Collaborative Group Projects


Collaborative group projects are learning experiences designed to foster student interaction in order to achieve a shared goal, in many circumstances linked to assessment. These experiences are normally task based and more formal than, for example, ad hoc study groups. Group projects can take place in many circumstances and are often linked to a deeper level of instructional design and teaching approach such as project or problem based learning or scenario based learning. Collaborative group projects offer a range of benefits to students including utilisation and development of vital pre-professional skills, problem solving and collaborative skills. Most importantly, students are provided with a source of ongoing comment and feedback from peers, which can be a valuable source of learning and development for these students.


The inclusion of a collaborative group project provides a range of affordances which can lead to deeper engagement with content and peers for students. Such tasks provide students with the chance to interact with others, potentially reducing the sense of isolation and perceived ‘distance’ between themselves and other students, the lecturer and the wider institution. Students can benefit from the chance to learn and express views in a smaller group, enabling them to learn in a more active way when compared to many individually based tasks.

In Practice


ITC105 Communication and Information Management

Teaching Staff

Anthony Chan


As this is a communication subject, the learning activity was designed to help students share their work, their communication skills and further develop their own ideas on how to best respond to a workplace scenario, whilst developing digital literacy skills using Cloud services, and cooperative learning.


The subject coordinator set up a Google Docs space for the students to access via a shared link. The students were provided with a workplace scenario, a complaint from a disgruntled customer. Each student had to write a response to the customer using the Google Docs, enabling all students to view each other’s work. They provided comments and ideas for each other as well. Student were able to share their communication ideas, strategies and expression. It proved a valuable activity for students to be able to bounce ideas off each other and prepare for the upcoming Assessment Task.

You can see an example of this Learning Activity from the 201630 session that is now read-only.


ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools

Teaching Staff

Julie Lindsay


ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools is a subject in the postgraduate degree Master of Education in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation (School of Information Studies). The focus of Assignment 1: Group wiki project was to work in a small team and create an authentic online learning module, demonstrating a range of digital and media affordances of the web environment. This module was created using a wiki (Wikispaces) and required a high level of group communication, collaboration and co-creation skills as well as some technical skills.

Successful groups self-organised, developed a common mission despite possible professional differences and motivations, and shared responsibilities towards the co-creation of the learning module. Through independent team communication they solved content and design issues related to module completion in an ongoing capacity - much of this was visible via the wiki discussion interface. This task provided group collaborative skill development in addition to enhanced facility with digital technologies along with an authentic, real-world scenario and final usable product.


An external wiki using Wikispaces Classroom (a free tool) was used for the group assignment. Teams were mostly self-selected and choose their own topic (pending approval) and methods of communication about the assignment needs. The chosen topic related to digital citizenship in an education context. Students had their own ‘wiki within the larger wiki’ afforded by the ‘classroom’ model with Wikispaces - as shown by the screenshot and ‘Teams’ listed in the navigation. The wiki took some time to set up however once done it provided a secure (and private) medium for students to share their teamwork.

You can find out more about this subject in this Case Study.


In looking for opportunities to develop and offer students an online collaborative group project, there are a range of considerations that need to be made:


There is a wide variety of tools available to support the implementation of Collaborative Group Projects, many of them CSU supported technologies:

When planning and offering best practice it is a good idea to provide a reliable, supported ‘default’ approach as well as articulating and modelling a range of ways in which collaboration can be enriched, and hopefully the default is also a best practice! There should be easy to access and understand help guides (text/audio/video) available for students so that they can trouble shoot minor problems themselves. If not, the creation of simple ‘how to guides’ may make your experience of facilitating Collaborative Group Projects all the more fruitful.

Additional Resources

Hiltz, Starr Roxanne. (1997). Impacts of college-level courses via Asynchronous Learning Networks: Some Preliminary Results. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. 1(2).

Slavin, R. (1996). Research on Cooperative Learning and Achievement: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Contemporary Educational Psychology 21, 43–69.

Wallace, R. M. (2003). Online learning in higher education: A review of research on interactions among teachers and students. Education, Communication & Information, 3(2), 241-280.