Group work assignments and projects are particularly important for eLearning classes. Working with other students helps keep your class engaged and active. It prevents students from getting lost in the corners of your class and lets them put the skills and knowledge they are learning to a practical purpose. You can adapt traditional classroom projects to eLearning formats or create assignments that take advantage of the unique options.
One format that group work assignments can easily take is a blog. The group as a whole is responsible for creating the layout and content pages of the blog. This allows for collaborative work. Each individual should be responsible for a set number of blog posts. This allows for some individualization in grading. It is also a good way to get a sense of how invested each student is in the project. Have students work collaboratively on the layout and on blog post topics, then create content individually.
Another good group assignment is to create a website related to the unit you are teaching. There are many free website building tools and services available. Depending on the situation, your students may also have access to space on your institution’s server. Since creating a website potentially uses many different skill sets, this is a good project for a group with diverse backgrounds. Make sure you provide clear guidelines as to what is important for the project. Content, organization, presentation, and reference links are all things to consider.
Presentations are a staple for classroom projects. They are no different in eLearning situations. Students can use tools like PowerPoint to create slideshows. Online tools like Prezi can also be an option. If you are working with a classroom with students in many different locations, then you will want to make use of a cloud-based folder or document sharing option. Most eLearning platforms have document sharing built in, though it is often clunkier than dedicated services.
Wikis are another opportunity for group projects. They can be approached in a similar manner as with websites. However, the format and organization is slightly different. They are good options if projects is to be based around broad topics with many aspects. Groups should work collaboratively to identify what is important and needs to be included. Then each individual can take on a set number of pages in the wiki. Learning wiki formatting is a useful skill in itself.
Ideally, eLearning projects will remain useful to students long after the class is done. To that end, it is generally advisable to publish them in places that will remain accessible to the students. Adults may want them to be publically accessible, especially if they plan to use the project as an example of their skills. When designing the assignment, make sure there are ways for you to identify both group and individual achievement. Keep your guidelines clear and plan to dedicate some class sessions to the project.