Collaborative Learning

Students working in small groups to complete a specific task or to work together over time to complete various assignments. The most productive collaborations involve a fair division of labor and relevant and complex projects that cannot be completed by an individual alone. Interdependence is required.

Strategies and Resources

  1. Making Group Activities Work and Group Work and Study Teams – practical tips for group work.
  2. Small Group Activities for Text Analysis or Problem Solving – general 26-minute script for a group session, with a description of the activity, materials needed, and expected outcomes.
  3. Template for Team Writing – template of a faculty worksheet to organize the roles of group members when collaborating. See also Jungblut’s adaptation of this template for the group workshop.
  4. Whiteboard as a Brainstorming Tool – tips for utilizing the WhiteBoard for organizing information and disseminating responses.
  5. Jigsaw: An Experiment in Cooperation – instructions for jigsaw activity, including preparation, step-by-step instructions, and strategies for reflection afterward.
  6. Sample Group Activity, Contract, and Presentation – Shari Hodgson, Sophia Kowalski, and Peter Telep created these materials for group work, including a script of activities, a contract for group members to sign, and assignment guidelines for group presentations.
  7. Active Listening/Reading Template – template for a handout that allows students to chart their listening/reading habits.
  8. Alternative Methods for a Learner-Centered Curriculum – provides faculty with a lengthy list of learner-centered teaching strategies as a supplement to the faculty’s repertoire.
  9. Problem-Based Learning – strategies for engaging students in active learning, to “involve students in an active, hands-on approach to problem-solving.”

Web and Video Conferencing

The University of Miami has licensed Blackboard Collaborate as its videoconferencing solution.  Blackboard Collaborate includes all of the features of a full web-based videoconferencing system, including:

  • Audio via computer or call-in number
  • Video using your computer’s webcam
  • Sharing PowerPoint slides with a group of participants
  • Sharing your full computer screen with participants
  • Text-based chat
  • Interactive shared whiteboard
  • Polling participants
  • Participation in meetings using mobile devices
  • Session recording and playback

Blogs and Wikis

Blackboard has blogwiki, and journal tools available inside the Blackboard environment. Although these tools are not as robust as the blog and wiki services mentioned above, many instructors find that they are adequate for their class requirements.

Discussion Boards

  • The Blackboard Discussion Board tool is the most widely used discussion forum for classes at the University of Miami. This asynchronous tools includes many features such as anonymous posting, grading, and group discussions.
  • Many instructors are finding Piazza – an online tool which can be integrated with Blackboard – to be invaluable in increasing learning in their classes and in reducing the amount of email that they receive from students.

Document Sharing

  • The Blackboard Groups feature includes a File Exchange area where students can share files with other group members and/or with the instructor.
  • Box – a local version of – allows you to share and collaborate on documents and other files online, with people both inside and outside the University of Miami.
  • Many instructors use Google Drive for their convenience and ease of use.

Other Communication Tools

  • In addition to traditional survey use, the Qualtrics survey tool is being used for teaching activities such as in-class surveys for checking understanding of material, peer and self evaluations for group projects, and presentations.
  • An increasing number of instructors are finding that social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter can be excellent ways to reach their students. Our instructional designers are well versed in the use of these tools for teaching, and can help you identify how they may be of use to you.