- What size is the cohort?
- What tool will I use to share information?
- How can I use the functions of that tool to communicate clearly, quickly and easily?
- How will I run interactive, discursive or collaborative activities with larger group sizes?
Pre-planning when running group sessions is important to ensure a smooth transition between activities and to help keep students engaged through a structured approach to online seminars and lectures. Below are some ideas relating to group teaching that can help you when planning out your sessions.
Asynchronous or Synchronous
By also pre-defining when and where activities will take place will enable you to share this information with your students so they can prepare for each activity and any proposed outcomes of those activities. I.e. Even though the activity is asynchronous they may need to create elements to be shared during the synchronous session.
Related resources & activities
Link | Teaching Remotely Essentials | Link to external site
This useful resource includes information on how to utilise technology for online teaching (Collaborate Ultra and MS teams) and has a useful diagram to help you decide which software to use and when to use it for asynchronous and synchronous activities.
Active learning, where students work individually or in groups to tackle problems, create resources and share ideas, can work just as effectively online. It can also empower students to be more involved and enhance their learning experience.
This approach can be very useful for teaching groups online but does require some pre-planning to identify activities that can support facilitated discussion in synchronous sessions. To make active learning effective you need to ensure every interaction is meaningful and purposeful. To ensure students are ‘present’ in the online session, webcams may be needed to facilitate learning and group interaction. However, some students may object for a variety of reasons. Below is a discussion on the pros and cons of getting students to use their webcams. What are your thoughts?
Student webcams in online teaching; On or Off? (1/17) pic.twitter.com/imUHzzMNkx
— BlendED (@UoL_BlendED) September 21, 2020
Related resources & activities
Digital Education Support Site | Interaction & Collaboration | Web (opens in a new window)
Digital Education Support Site | Student discussion | Web (opens in a new window)
These useful resources highlights some potential activity ideas that can be used with an active learning approach
Teaching large groups
For large cohorts; synchronous teaching events should be carefully planned to realistically manage groups online.It may be that pre-recording items, such as sharing information for entire cohorts (like introducing yourself for example) may provide a better experience than large-scale presentations on Collaborate.
Is this the right approach for you? An alternative could be to encourage students to self-manage their peer-working space through Blackboard groups or directing students to group chats on MS Teams, which would remove the administrative reliance on tutors to manage multiple Collaborate rooms.
To help you decide the right approach for you, we have placed a decision tree diagram below. This will guide you towards the correct guidance for your needs (see helpsheets below graphic).
HyFlex learning, an approach that simultaneously combines face-to-face teaching with online participation can be extraordinarily difficult to deliver successfully for everyone, especially with large cohorts. Our recommendation would be to adopt separate online and face to face sessions to help ease facilitation.
However, there may be occasions where this cannot be avoided, especially if responding to changing circumstances where facilitating online participation enables continuity of access. Press the button below to link to a page on HyFlex learning and potential strategies you can use.