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Teaching Tip: Group Projects in Your Online OM Course

April 22, 2015

on line teachingAs you introduce the group project to the students in your new online course, you can hear their screams through your PC! Why? Why? There are several reasons you did so: Students will have an opportunity to develop team skills, improve communication skills, and leverage their own personal interests and experiences to contribute.

But group projects may also cause both students and instructors additional work due to the issues that may arise during the course of the project. Issues often involve questions and concerns around grading, equal distribution of work, communication pitfalls, and managing expectations. Here are 5 guidelines for smoothly running the online group project that are recommended by Faculty Focus (April 20, 2015):

1. Define the Project – The project should be integrated into the course objectives and not be viewed as an extra assignment or busy work.

2. Establish Milestones – The project should include specific milestones during the course. For example, require an outline, a project scope, a requirements document, and other pertinent deliverables.

3. Use your Learning Management System (LMS) –  You can offer private group discussion areas, chat areas, and other collaboration tools that will encourage both communication and participation. You can choose to monitor these as well if needed.

4. Simplify and Clarify Grading – You need to establish clear grading expectations for the group project. You may choose to grade each participant separately or, preferably, provide one grade for each project deliverable and apply that grade to all participants.

5. Provide Encouragement –  Encourage and communicate the specific details of the project, and encourage each member of the group to utilize his/her strengths. Ask each group to submit an outline or summary for approval as well.

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