[no]WURries: ‘Hoe kan ik online groepswerk beter vormgeven?’

In deze rubriek beantwoorden mensen van WUR vragen van collega's en studenten.
‘I am a teacher at WUR and I would like tips on how to better organize online group work. What works and what doesn’t? I am also curious to hear from students!’
Jessica Duncan, associate professor of Rural Sociology

In-house expertise

‘The Education Experience Team organizes feedback sessions that often highlight innovative methods for improving teaching at WUR. For example, if you have a tutorial in Teams, you can divide a large group into various subgroups. Its planner function can also be useful for brainstorming together or letting individual people ask questions. We are currently trying out Miro, an online whiteboard that makes it very easy to share textual and visual information. If you want more specific tips, you should definitely contact us (studentexperience@wur.nl)!’
Monica van Leeuwen, Education Experience PR team

Camera on

‘A good online environment is crucial. Teams works better than Skype or Brightspace, which often have bad connections. Also, a group of four to five students works best. Discussions are more problematic in larger groups. I find you then often get just two people doing the talking. It is also good for the teacher to join in the discussion occasionally to offer guidance. My final tip is to make it compulsory for students to turn on their webcam. The students don’t always know the other people in their group, so it’s nice to see their faces so you know who you’re collaborating with.’
Milou Hendriks, Nutrition & Health Master’s student

Join in via Teams

‘There are a lot of applications that facilitate online group work. I advise teachers to use a single channel wherever possible for communication, course materials and group work. Brightspace offers integration options but they are still far from perfect. I am personally very impressed by Microsoft Teams. You can create separate channels for all your student groups. As the teacher, you can drop in on all the groups, listen to their discussions and give input. In this way, you replace groups in lecture rooms with breakout rooms.’
Ruud Wilbers, coordinator for Basics of Infectious Diseases

Keep it small

‘Keep the groups small — about two to four students. It’s more difficult to get to know one another online and in bigger online meetings, you can literally disappear into the background. With a small group, you can also work offline while keeping a distance of 1.5m. I would like to add that group work is even more important, perhaps indispensable, now. I personally have more difficulty with online courses without group work because then you are really on your own. First-years in particular are more likely to become socially isolated.’
Monique van Schie, Molecular Life Sciences Master’s student

NEXT WURRY:
‘Teachers also like to drink a beer (or two) in the pub. But Wageningen is small and you soon bump into curious students. What should you do? Go to the pub in the next town along, or just take no notice?’ Mark, WUR teacher (full name known to the editor).

If you have advice or tips for this Wurrier, send an email (max. 100 words) before 23 September to resource@wur.nl with subject ‘noWURries #3’.

If you need advice yourself, email your problem (max. 100 words) to resource@wur.nl with subject ‘noWURries’.

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