Good stereotype of the student who has other life commitments and is excluded from group activities. But so real.
So defining the real problem here, we see we have a motivated student who can’t be in the same place at the same time as her peers for mini projects.
Project-based learning, if indeed we are really talking about projects, is usually highly structured around project milestones. Often weekly points. Project groups are typically about 3 to 6. They also are rich and multi-dimensional.
This last factor of multi-functionality suggests you can arrange your project groups around strengths or weaknesses (in which case not everyone learns about the whole project or uses a ‘full’ skill set or is necessarily challenged) or they are the opposite: everyone is expected to do the same type of thing in parallel and are able to work together supportively. The first model is good if the learning outcomes are really just about learning to function in a team. Otherwise you go more with model 2 – working in parallel (many hands make light work). So let’s focus on how BYOD4L can support that and let’s map out the group work into some stages: planning, research, development, presentation.
Stage 1. Planning – the team can do a lot remotely. A good team will begin by clarifying the objective and looking creatively at how they can address it. Google Hangouts or Skype would work well for this. Everyone could be in different places or we could have a mixture of people f2f and online – the latter being the preferred option. They need to discuss and make conclusions and capture these in a form they can work with in week 2 and beyond. So they could do with a Google Doc open for making and agreeing notes, wherever they are located. They could record their meeting using an audio recorder, but if you can make written notes as you’re planning I think you’re on safer ground.
Project stages allow the tutor to monitor and give formative feedback – important in a project as checking that each group is pointing in the right direction at each stage is critical. The Google Doc invite will help, though normally I’d be looking at assessing individual contributions to a project and I’d prefer to monitor individual’s blog posts each week. Having them externally facing means we can think about ‘audience’ to add authenticity. So I’d look at the students using BlogPress, WordPress, Blogsy or some other blogging app to build their project portfolios and reflective accounts.
Stage 2. Research – we don’t know what course or subject, but let’s keep this high level. We want to find and curate stuff and share this with our fellow group members. As discussed yesterday in our Curating topic, there are all sorts of apps from Pinterest, Delicious, Diigo, Evernote, Mendeley, or Endnote, or just sites like Paper.li, Scoop.it, Storify, private blogs, etc, etc for storing and sharing links and ‘stuff’. I download journal articles in PDF form to iBooks and I categorise them there (also rename them). But research is more than finding stuff! You need to analyse and organise it. So you need to think about tagging some of these artefacts, copying and pasting juicy bits and putting those somewhere and annotating them. Google Spreadsheets are handy if blogs and other curation tools are not enough. But you might want to interview people (there are so many audio recorders, but I use Voice Record) or carry out surveys (why wouldn’t you use Google Forms?). All of these support the gathering and sharing of data. Interviewing people at at distance? Skype? Or ask them to send you video responses (Capture) to predetermined questions.
Stage 3. Development – if this is happening in parallel then the students, wherever they are, will just need to touch base, but really I think this is about synthesis. The group reflecting on what it has got and agreeing themes or categories and structuring what they have learnt. I think some sort of joint tag gable tool like a group blog can help here to put all the items in as separate posts which get tagged. Once tagged t hey can be sorted. Or a social bookmarking tool like Delicious or Diigo? I’m sure someone’s got a better idea than me about how to organise collaborative data ready to present it. Leave a comment please!
Stage 4. Presentation –
Each student could/should (?) take responsibility for presenting an aspect of the project unless the group as a whole comes up with a collective approach like dramatising their findings! (Video or audio?) so we could see Keynote, Prezzi, animation, Explain Everything, audio in Soundcloud, Audio Boos, etc. Could be used. But the killer app (today!) is VoiceThread I think – you can upload various media and interact with various media (both presenters and commentators/audience).
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