How do we get students to collaborate?
Collaboration on school projects might be easier now thanks to edtech, but it doesn’t mean that teachers can just assign tasks and expect the students to work it all out. One of the key challenges to teaching with Chromebooks is to ensure that students are still engaging with each other and not just with their device in front of them.
It’s true that with all the collaborative apps available on Chromebooks and other devices, it’s harder for just one or two students to do all the work and drag the rest of their team along. For example, you can check edit history on apps like Google Docs or Slides. This will show you who did what on the project so each student in a group is accountable for the whole project. You can also use the Mobile Guardian Classroom Management Tools to view activity history and browsing history on each device.
The problem is, this might just make some students only contribute a page or two of information to make sure they’re counted. It might not encourage true collaboration within the team. So, how do you encourage true teamwork? Let’s take a look at some strategies:
Build teamwork into your teaching style
One of the fastest ways to get students to work together is to give them tasks that are too complex to complete on their own. When projects have numerous layers that need to be completed simultaneously, students will have no choice but to rely on their teammates. They will also need to learn how to share the information from their various portions of the project so that the team can complete the presentation or the document for marking.
There are also various smaller activities that you can try to help students learn how to work together. For example, pair your students up and make one responsible for the research on a test and the other responsible for typing out the answers. This is easy when teaching with Chromebooks because students can share one project file in the cloud and message each other via a chat app.
Create a shared purpose
A group succeeds when they have each other’s best interests at heart. The students in a team don’t have to be in the same circle of friends or hang out together at lunch, but if they respect each other, they will want the group project to succeed together. Start each collaborative project with team meeting where the students are encouraged to outline what they need to do and what they want to accomplish. This will give them a shared purpose.
You can also assign team roles to each member, or at least help your students to do that for their own group. Start by discussing what the roles should or could be. Then talk about the strengths of each team member and how those fit into the various team roles available.
Be open about the challenges
Group work can be stressful, it can also be unpleasant at times. Students may very well have to work with someone they don’t like, and that’s the point. So, talk about this openly and help your students to understand that this is what will happen in life. Just because you don’t like a person or there is friction between group members, doesn’t mean you can’t work together for a common goal.
It also takes time to develop a culture of collaboration, so it’s important to get going with group projects as early as possible. Once students can see the benefits of working together, and what can be achieved with proper collaboration, they’ll be more inclined to work with people from outside their circle of friends.
For longer projects, encourage students to have regular team meetings where they feedback on what has been accomplished and what the next steps are. This keeps each student accountable at every step, and allows for them to reevaluate if something or someone isn’t working.
They now have the tools
The beauty of teaching with Chromebooks is that these devices facilitate true collaboration. Students are more connected than ever before. They also have access to tools like GSuite, with collaborative apps like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. Research is also easier thanks to the internet. Keeping track of who is doing what within a project is also easy with workflow management apps, Trello.
Teachers can also fully track the progress of each group and the individual members thanks to the technology. They can see revision histories on the GSuite apps, which shows exactly which user did what on the project. Add in the classroom management tools for Chromebooks that are part of the Mobile Guardian MDM solution for schools, and you can monitor device activity of each student. Teachers can see what websites a student visited for research, how long they spent on each one, and track digital interactions between the students.
Teamwork and teaching with Chromebooks
We’ve entered an age where collaboration is happening in all elements of life. Partners are sharing the household shopping list on their phones, while CEOs are running multi-national meetings from home. This is why teaching students about teamwork and using the technology available to them is so essential. Teaching with Chromebooks and Mobile Guardian just makes it that much easier.