One of the essential goals of the Learning Technology Ecosystem at USask is to allow students to connect to others. While collaboration skills are one of the essential skills most employers describe, the need for collaboration tools is actually more immediate. When students have the opportunity to think through things actively with others, they learn more than they if they only listen to a professor talk about them, and they are more likely to be able to apply what they learn.
Best ways to support collaboration
- Focus on talking to others during the learning, like working on questions or discussing, instead of group projects.
- When you do group projects, don’t give everyone the same mark. This is the most significant complaint students have about group work, and it is unlikely that everyone learned exactly the same amount as a common mark implies.
- Use technologies to allow you to see what students are thinking as they collaborate, so you can see if they need further teaching on a subject. Technologies make formative assessment easy because you to see all groups at once.
- Use opportunities to talk with others often and for short periods to avoid students getting off task
- Focus the collaboration on students applying what you have taught, giving each other feedback on ideas, and trying to response to case studies.
- When groups are brainstorming together, try tools like Mural so you can see all the sticky notes at once.*
- When small groups are building independent documents, spreadsheets or presentations together, have them create in OneDrive and share to you. That way you can see as they work, and everyone has access. You can even do this directly in Canvas. There are issues in everyone editing at the same time in OneDrive if the group is large.
- When a larger group (over five) is all generating ideas together, use a tool like Google’s drive (docs, sheets, etc.).*
*Tips for using tools that are not integrated into the Learning Technology Ecosystem
- Use tools that are approved but not integrated over unapproved tools
- Don’t require students to have an account for tools like Mural or Google. Instead, allow them to join anonymously. It will make it easier for them to contribute without being concerned about being judged, and prevent them from being required to take data or privacy risk you may not have considered.
- When tools are used to generate a substantial portion of a grade, they become compelled for students. If you are using a tool that way, please complete a technology assessment for it if it is not on the approved list
- Once your students have worked collaboratively with an outside tool, ask them to export and save a copy.If it is important to safeguard the results of the collaboration, ensure you export a copy for yourself and save on OneDrive or another approved file storage system.