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One of the misconceptions about group work is that it is less work. While group work and group assignments can facilitate some aspects of the course, it can also be challenging, and evolve into total chaos if students aren’t clear about how they should function as a group. Group work also takes practice, so be patient in the process!

Group Collaboration Strategies[edit | edit source]

Below are recommendations for how groups should get going. It is a good idea to create a group document that addresses these steps, and then make sure each member has a copy.

Establish ground rules[edit | edit source]

This involves agreeing on how the group will work together.

For example, you will want to think about how you will communicate respectfully with each other, and how you will address conflict.

  • How will you make sure that everybody participates equally? What are the rules for dealing with a member who has not been in contact with the group for a certain period of time?
  • How will you ensure that everybody participates meaningfully, and that everybody’s contribution is seen as being important?
  • How will you negotiate agreement? For example, democratically, or role based?

Time planning[edit | edit source]

This involves reviewing assignment expectations, planning a group schedule, then agreeing and committing to a plan.

Plan the process[edit | edit source]

In planning the schedule, it is important to first identify roles and tasks. These can be structured or unstructured, but you will want to be clear up front on what everybody is responsible for.

Some suggested roles (for structured groups) might be helpful:

Group facilitation is an important role in collaborating. You can take turns with this, but you may want some strategies for facilitating a meeting successfully: Try: Meeting Strategies to Help Prepare Students for Group Work (U of Waterloo)∞

Here are some tips from a student perspective: Teamwork Skills for Group Projects∞

Be familiar with tools that can help[edit | edit source]

Communication tools

It’s never been easier to collaborate on documents together, or to communicate online.

If you are using WebCT, you probably have been assigned a private group discussion area for working together. You might also have access to a chat tool. If your group process is being evaluated, you will want to make sure you keep your communication within WebCT, where the instructor has access to it. However, if it is only the final group assignment (or drafts) that are being evaluated, you can use a number of tools to help you work together.

  • Email
  • MSN chat
  • Skype (a voice tool)
  • The telephone!

Were these tips helpful? Add your own tips and tricks here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done.

Collaborative Writing Tools[edit | edit source]

In the past, working on a common group project was a bit of a nightmare--students often had to share a Word document via email, and often versions were hard to keep a track of. Internet based collaborative tools make this a lot easier--a single document has it's own 'home' on the internet, can be made to be only visible to the group members, and all editing and collaboration takes place in one place.

There are several options for writing tools--we have described a few that we find simple and efficient to use, but you are welcome to add your own to this page.

Wikis[edit | edit source]

A wiki page functions like an internet version of Microsoft word. When you click on the Edit page button, you will be able to type into the text box and change formatting using the toolbar provided. You then have to click on the Save page button to save your contribution. You can also use the comments button to make comments, or you can simply add your comments in the page using a different colour.

UBC hosts has a wiki service available to the UBC community. The steps for creating a Group wiki page are outlined below.

UBC Wiki steps: Follow these steps if you don't already have a Group Wiki page that was created for you in advance, or if you want to create a new page.

One person from your group needs to do the following:

  1. Go to
  2. in the address bar, add on to the URL by typing a / and then the name of the page. Eg.
  3. If you don’t have an account, you will be prompted to create one.
  4. After creating the account, you become the owner of the page. Type something at in your page, scroll down, and click on Save page to save it.
  5. Your wiki page is now for public access so anyone on the internet can view this page.
  6. Share your wiki page with everyone. Anyone should be able to edit and comment on the page.

Note: In order to make it simpler for you, the Wiki space has been set to allow anybody to edit and make comments, which might open it up to outside spam. If you see that your wiki space has been spammed, you can use the History button at the top of the page to revert to a previous version, or you can wait until the UBC automated “wiki cleaner” comes by and cleans it up (usually every 2 hours)

Did this tool work for you? Add your own tips and tricks here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done:

Google Doc[edit | edit source]

One person from your group needs to do the following:

  1. go to∞. Note: Google Doc currently only works with IE 5 on Windows or Firefox on Mac.
  2. create an account
  3. create a document (very intuitive)
  4. use the collaborate button to share with the other group members. You enter their email addresses, and they are sent a direct link to the document. If they don’t receive it, they should check their junk folder.

Google Doc features that are useful:

  1. Many users can be working on the same document at the same time.
  2. Google Doc automatically saves every minute or so, but you should occasionally use the Done button just in case, and save copies onto your own computer periodically.
  3. Google Doc keeps track of previous revisions which you can access with the Revisions button.
  4. Google Doc uses an interface that looks and works a lot like Word, so the learning curve is very short.
  5. You can cut and paste from Word and export in different formats

Add your own tips and tricks here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done:

Zoho Writer[edit | edit source]

Zoho writer works almost identically as Google Doc, and shares all of the same features. The difference is in the interface, although the ZohoWriter interface is also instinctive, since it looks and fells a lot like Microsoft Word. Note: Zoho Writer might not work in some browsers such as Safari.

Add other tools that were helpful for your group work here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done:

Collaborative Visual Tools[edit | edit source]

Visual organization tools and technologies enable the creation of any kinds or charts and diagrams for statistical purposes as well as creating a visual to help interpret the data set at hand.

Gliffy[edit | edit source]

Gliffy is another web-based tool that allows you to quickly create visual maps and then share and edit with group members. It is basically a visual version of Google Doc and Zoho Writer.

Did your group use Gliffy? If so, add your tips and tricks here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done.[edit | edit source] is another visual mapping tool that allows users to embed maps in blogs and websites.

Did your group use If so, add your tips and tricks here by using the Edit button at the top of the page, then click Save page when you're done.

Other visual mapping tools also include Edraw Soft, CmapTools and Creately.

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