Topic 6: Online Group Work
Faculty Team Members:   Consultants:
Michelle Simpson - Charles Joe Goldsmith - Capitol
Carolyn Dabirsiaghi - BCCC Inez Giles - UMUC
Margaret Spivey - Hagerstown  
Analyze the Audience

This professional development training targets college faculty who are beginning to develop online courses.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this training, faculty members will be able to:

  • Utilize chat rooms for group projects
  • Utilize threaded discussion techniques (bulletin boards) for group projects
  • Apply theories of effective group work
Presentation of Topic Information

The following PowerPoint presentations are available:

~ Online Interaction and Small Group Work, PowerPoint Presentation, Inez Giles - UMUC

~ Online Group Work, PowerPoint Presentation, Margaret Spivey - Hagerstown Community College

Estimate of time needed to adequately address this topic: 1-2 hours

Available Resources

Online Resources

~ Windows NetMeeting

Print Resources

~ Working in Small Groups (Word version) or HTML version, Inez Giles - UMUC

~ Engleberg, Isa N. and Dianna R. Wynn. Working in Groups: Communication Principles and Strategies. New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997.

~ Palloff, Rena M. and Keith Pratt. Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.



This exercise will give the participants a chance to discuss the issues around online group work and practice using the online communication tools for effective group communication.

Preparation: Set up chat rooms and bulletin board forums for several groups.

Activity: Divide the participants into groups of 4-5 and assign each group a chat room and bulletin board forum. In the chat room, the group will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of group work in the traditional setting. After about 10 minutes, the groups should then move to the assigned bulletin board forum. In the bulletin board forum, the groups will discuss how some of the advantages and disadvantages will translate to the online environment. After another 10 minutes, the groups should come together as a whole and answer the following questions:

  1. What was the most difficult part of communicating in the chat room?
  2. What was the most difficult part of communicating in the bulletin board forum?
  3. What are some techniques that can be used to incorporate effective communication in the online environment?
  4. Based on the discussions, what are the criteria for an effective online group project?

For an example of how to assess student performance in the online group assessment, see:

~ Memo of Disassociation and Letter of Disassociation, Joan McMahon- Towson State University

~ Other Group Exercises relating to this topic, Mary Wells - PGCC


Assessment Strategies

The participants will each develop an online group project that will be presented as another session. The group will evaluate the project based on the criteria discussed in the first session.