5 Designing a Collaborative Environment
Online Learning is new for many educators and students. There is a learning curve for all with a new set of distractions and challenges that we may not have faced during traditional face to face learning. Teaching and learning online takes practice- take it one step at a time. Be patient with yourself and your students.
Creating a Social Contract
- Be explicit about what you are expecting from students
- Be clear about your expectations during synchronous activities, there is no ‘common sense’ for online activities
- Be clear about what you expect from their participation in groups
- Be clear about when and how you want them to contact you (and to not contact you)
Align your assignments with the platform
You will need to take each of your activities and assignments and imagine how they could be accomplished within the Teams environment. (eg. It could be great to use ‘track changes’ as a way of iteratively supporting a writing student through writing an essay, but you’ll have to work out how to grade it without the artifact of a ‘submission’ of a document.) There are many possibilities, but this can cause a potential problem.
Control the time that people will be working
There are certainly students who need ‘encouragement’ to work, but there is a whole other group that will work as hard as you allow them to work. The open ended nature of the Teams platform could lead to students working too much, contacting other teammates at 2am or peppering you with chat messages. Devise clear rules and stick to them.
Work with the system
If you want Teams to work like an LMS (learning management system), then stop using Teams and use your institutional LMS. Teams is great for running ongoing conversations, collaborative project work and flexibility. It’s not great for rigid assignments and multiple-choice exams.
For more thoughts on teaching online, please see our 12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online