One of the reasons that I like tech projects is that they often promote group work. One of the reasons that most teachers hate group tech projects is that students have a hard time working in groups and students can quickly get out of control. The key to a good tech project where students work together and all members are actively engaged is the manner in which the activity or project is designed by the teacher or instructor.
For a teacher to expect students to work in a group, there has to be an opportunity for every student in the group to work. All to often, a project is explained, students are placed in groups, the assignment is given, and one or two student in the group do all the work while the rest mess around, watch Youtube videos, or sleep at their desks. Situations like this become unwieldy for the teacher and soon, the tech projects are dropped and out come the worksheets.
The point here is that each student needs a clearly defined job. You know the old adage, “Idle hands are devils playthings.” I am pretty sure this was coined by a teacher! Students who don’t have any purpose in a class cause problems.
Here are are 4 tech projects or apps that definitely promote group work and collaboration when set up correctly.
If you have read my blog much, you will know that I love video projects. They are one of the best ways to promote group work and collaboration. The key in doing this is to have the students work together on the project, but also do quite a bit of work on their own. All the students in a group should write their own script and make their own storyboard. The students can work together in creating a script or storyboard that they can use for filming. I know that this sounds like a lot of extra work, but if one student is writing the script and another is making the storyboard, what are the others going to be doing? Wreaking havoc on the classroom.
After they have decided as a group on what to film, all the students can work together on the filming. Then, when that is done, each student should have an opportunity to cut and edit film. Have each student make his or her own video using the clips shot as a group. This gives everyone the opportunity to work and learn.
Build a presentation using Prezi Meeting
Prezi has a feature where students can collaborate in the building of presentation, all in real time. Imagine a chat room combined with a tool that makes presentations similar to PowerPoint but much cooler; that’s Prezi Meeting. First, one student in the group needs to set up a workspace and invite the other members of the group. After that, all students can add text, pictures, and video to the blank canvas. Students can also talk to one another meaning that they can all work on a project outside of school. If you haven’t seen this work before, it’s pretty cool.
Cover It Live group discussions
This doesn’t actually count as a project, per say, but Cover It Live is an excellent way to include every student in a classroom discussion. One of the downsides of a group discussion in a typical classroom is that one or two students often dominate the discussion. You know, the one in the front who raises his or her hand with ever question. When doing a discussion in Cover It Live, every student has an opportunity to contribute. I have found that with this activity, those “wallflowers” in the room are often the most active in the discussion.
Build a website
Building a website as a group can be a great way to get everyone involved. Using an app like Lifeyo or Weebly, groups can easily put together a custom made website to show whatever has been assigned by the teacher. This does require some more work on the part of the group to make sure everyone has a job, but the teacher can (and probably should) facilitate this. Students can split the job of writing text, finding pictures, and building pages. In the creation of a webpage, everyone can be busy, even in the building stage. Lifeyo works great for this because more than one person can edit the same website at any one time, as long as they are not working on the same page.
Technology and group work are two powerful ways to for students to learn. If planned correctly, the combination of the two will engage students in learning unlike most anything else that can be done in the classroom.