Collaborative work in groups

Some  of the tools used by students in 2013/2014
Some of the tools used by students in 2013/2014

Throughout the programme you will be working in study groups, and using a variety of collaborative online tools to discuss, develop and finalise artefacts.  Group work however requires time and effort to make it productive within the given time frames  and here are a few suggestions for you to consider.

Group Dynamics.  It is important to develop group dynamics which involves you finding out about the other group members, and sharing information about yourself, such as your availability or preferred style of working, etc. Have a look at this suggestions as a starting point for team building and developing shared working practices: Building_your_team_recipe_for_success.

From the outset, you need to recognise that for successful completion of this stage, each group or team member must make a firm commitment to collaboration – ownership of the process and product is the underlying principle. Making your voice heard, whilst listening to and recognising the views of others is all part of developing an effective strategy.

The onus of responsibility for making key decisions and taking action rests with each member of the team, and should ultimately lead to the generation of new group and personal knowledge. You may not be familiar with this way of working and find the approach a little scary. Perhaps it may even be something of a culture shock for you.

“The forum gives  really good evidence of our process”

The use of the term team implies a strong collective identity focused on achieving a common goal, but may also have associations with competition. Within this stage, an ethos of co-operation underpins all activity. Correspondingly, each team area is open so you can view other groups’ strategies and learn from one another’s contributions.

All groups operated very differently”

The way in which you operate should be a team decision, and is likely to include such things as whether you’ll adopt specific roles, whether you’ll appoint a leader, how work will be apportioned, how you allocate time to each aspect of this stage, how often you’ll meet and the tools you’ll use to support the interaction and collaboration.  Please be aware that not all group members will be able to meet in person so your working practices  need to be inclusive.

“email is really un-compromising. People tend to sound more argumentative on email – especially in capitals”

Ultimately, we encourage all group members to take on a fair share of responsibility in undertaking and completing tasks/ activities. How this occurs is up to your collective approach. Working in a group during the programme will also provide you with an opportunity to consider the opportunities and challenges to these kinds of collaborative activities from a ‘student’ perspective. Learning derived from these experiences can thus feed into your own teaching practices.


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