Creating a shared resource can assist in establishing a strong sense of community by helping students to focus on a shared learning goal and shared responsibilities. This speaks to the importance that each member has within the group. It also increases the likelihood that students’ individual needs are satisfied through the collective efforts of the group (Yuan and Kim, 2014). Creating shared resources provides opportunities to enhance communication, teamwork and digital literacy skills.
Through the process of developing a shared resource, students are required to test and develop their working relationships with others, enhancing skills in negotiation, problem-solving and communication, which require a much deeper level of engagement. Learning is distributed throughout the cohort, reducing the risk of a single point of failure.
Creating a shared resource enhances engagement within the community by providing a focal point and a common goal that students must work towards. This common goal also provides a measure of accountability to one’s peers, providing incentives through peer recognition. Asking students to create shared resources assists the entire cohort to learn together by focussing on a shared goal.
MGT501 Management, People and Organisations
In a post-graduate subject with many students new to CSU, this learning design incorporated digital literacies and professional communication skills while building a sense of community. Each student group examined a contemporary management issue, shared their findings and considered the information presented by their peers. In the end this activity provided the cohort with a collection of presentations which unpacked topics introduced in weekly readings and tutorials
Students were randomly placed into groups, communication tools for student-to-student interaction included the discussion board and folders for sharing artefacts. Each small group of students presented their findings through online meeting sessions. The entire cohort was invited to vote for the ‘best’ presentations via SurveyMonkey.
Assessment Items Used
- Introductions & Plans
- During week 1, each team (4-5 students) is assigned a current management issue/problem. Due week 3, each students introduce themselves to the entire cohort and they share their plans for completing the project. This activity involves collaboration and cooperation.
- Due week 10, the group presentation demonstrates research and application of theory regarding their assigned topic. Students negotiate within their team regarding tasks such as gathering evidence, creating the final slides, scripting.
- Evaluation of Own Team Processes
- This individual task allows each student to reflect upon the process and to consider how this experience relates to their own management style/philosophy.
- Evaluation of other team projects
- Using a survey tool (SurveyMonkey) students are asked to nominate the most successful presentations given by others. Students are also asked to explain their choices. This allows students to consider many topics as well as different ways of presenting information and influencing the opinion of others.
ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools
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). This group assignment required students to develop communication and collaboration skills in order to co-create a learning module for use within an education setting. 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.
The focus of the 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. 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. 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.
You can find out more about this subject in this Case Study.
The creation of shared resources requires quite a bit of planning. Lecturers may consider the development of resources in a number of ways.
Questions to ponder include: What tools do students need to build resources? How will students communicate and collaborate within their small groups? ‘When completed what will the collection of resources provide the entire cohort? Are they opportunities to share with other cohorts of students?
Here are some key points to consider:
- Clearly Identify topics to be divided amongst the students. As with any learning activity, it is important to make expectations clear. Let students know what they will be focussing on and what the completed body of knowledge will represent - what will the completed ‘jigsaw’ provide? How much research or other work is expected from each student and how will it be shared? This could be done through discussion board forums, wikis and/or shared folders (i.e. resources folder)
- Allocate student groups to each topic. At this point there are some options to consider: is it appropriate for students to self-select or will they be assigned to particular groups
- Monitor progress. Simply keep students on track as you would normally with regular online meeting sessions and announcements.
- Share the final product. Once all the students or groups have completed their research and prepared their findings, share the larger body of knowledge, which is the completed ‘jigsaw’. This could be done in a variety of ways depending on the initial briefing. For example: if each student wrote a short report they could be combined into a larger book, or a series of PowerPoint slides may be compiled into a slideshow or animation.
- Debrief. After students have had time to consider the efforts of their peers discuss overall findings and what they have learned from their own work and that of others.
Blackboard, Wikis, Blogs and the use of a common space such as a ‘resources’ folder to upload artefacts are all useful tools to develop a shared resources. External technologies like Google Docs or Google Slides can be particularly useful for collaborative authoring and contribution in a way that also provides version tracking and control.
Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2010). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. Retrieved from EBook Library
Pozzi, F. (2010). Using jigsaw and case study for supporting online collaborative learning. Computer & Education 55(1), 67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.12.003
Yuan, J. & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning
communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30. 220-232. doi: 10.1111/jcal.12042
Wenger, E. & McDermott, R. & Snyder, W.M. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. (pp.49-64). Boston : Harvard Business School Press.