Saturday, May 26, 2012

PL 23/12: Digital learning in groups

Filed under: LATINA — plinius @ 10:09 am

Much digital learning takes place in groups. Digital tools are well suited for group work.

Small groups

Groups should normally be small. That keeps communication easy and informal.

  • Groups may be very small – consisting of two or three persons (pairs, triads).
  • They may be slightly larger, typically four to seven persons.
  • Larger groups than this are hard to manage – and tend to fall apart into sub-groups.

At LATINA participants will often work in groups. Participants learn by working on, discussing, and sometimes struggling with a shared task.

Exercises and projects

Tasks may be short exercises or longer projects. They may be

  • designed by the teacher/s
  • designed by students and teacher/s together
  • designed by the students

In the third case they are usually subject to approval by the teacher, though.

Changing groups

At LATINA the size and composition of the groups will vary all the time.

  • On the first day of the course we organize six colour based groups.
  • For photo and video work we will establish eight visual media groups. Fruits?
  • During week two we work with six project groups. Animals?

Why these changes?

  • Changing the groups, the group size and the tasks in a planned way create new energies.
  • Changing groups frequently provides a wide range of shared experiences.
  • You get acquainted with many different people by working with them.

Collaboration + conversation is more powerful than conversation alone.

Teacher = Designer

When much of the learning takes place in groups, the role of the teacher changes.

  • The teacher does not lecture to the class.
  • Instead, she designs and supports group-oriented learning processes in the class.
  • This means planning, presenting and supervising exercises and projects.

Doing the task is not an end in itself.

  • The task is a tool for learning.
  • First we do the work.
  • Then we learn from the results

Process and product

Therefore we usually do some form of presentation, discussion and evaluation after each exercise or project. We look at the product and ask:

  • What did we achieve?
  • What could be improved?
  • How can do (even) better next time?

Finally we step back from the product and take look at the process.

  • What worked well?
  • What did not work so well?
  • How can we improve our way of working?

This post is also published in LATINA Africa 2012


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