Boat sailing in trouble at sea

Engage Students Effectively with Group Work

Charl Fregona Collaboration, Online Teaching

Engage students with this idea for a group exercise

Worst-Case Scenario Group Work Exercise: Lost at Sea

This exercise is intended as an ice-breaker and works best as a blended learning exercise. However, the exercise can be carried out online altogether.

  • Purpose: Ice-breaker activity to engage students online and to create social learning. presence
  • Skills: Communication, collaboration, problem-solving.
  • Online tools needed: Group tool, dicussion or blog tool, voting tool (examples provided below).

Come up with a scenario that requires students to work together to solve problems such as getting lost at sea and assign students into groups of five using the collaborative group tool in your learning management system.

You may need to demonstrate how to use the tool before you begin the online activities.You may also need to demonstrate the discussion tool or blog and the voting sytem you use, depending on the digital skills level of your students. In a blended learning situation, you could use a handheld student response device or mobile phone app here.

Instructions to students
  1. Work together in your assigned group. Devise a solution that ensures that all of you arrive safely on land after getting lost at sea. Agree on a list of ten essential items that will help you a create a passage to safety. Appoint a scribe to report back. Use the group tool to do this.
  2. The group scribe must list items that your group comes up with and explain how they will be used to get to safety. Use the discussion tool to do this.
  3. Post a comment on at least three other group solutions saying why you think the solution is a good one. Do not comment on your own group’s solution. Use the discussion tool to do this.
  4. Vote for the best group solution. Use the voting tool to do this.

This group work exercise you help familiarise your students with the online tools they will be using in your course, as well as engaging them in  online activities from the start of your course. There are some great videos in the drop down list below to getyou started.

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