OCTs

Can technology help student teams improve their group process—and ultimately their learning? CRLT's recent Occasional Paper on "Teaching in the Cloud" explains some ways it can. In particular, the paper highlights how Online Collaboration Tools (OCTs) can enhance students' ability to collaborate effectively. OCTs can facilitate group members' access to one another and the team's efficiency by reducing spatial and temporal barriers. OCTs can also provide novel, efficient, and effective means for instructors to monitor and provide feedback on group projects.  

The paper features two U-M faculty members who successfully utilize OCTs to improve student teamwork as well as instructor management of group projects. 

  • Robin Fowler of Technical Communication and Engineering: Fowler has improved student teamwork in Introduction to Engineering by shifting from face-to-face team meetings to synchronous, text-based online discussions. Her students share and assess design plans using Google Docs, a system that has increased student engagement and participation in group decision-making. Click here to learn more and watch a short video of Fowler discussing this teaching strategy and some of its outcomes.
     
  • Melissa Gross of Kinesiology: Gross's studio course uses 3D animation and motion capture technologies to study the biomechanics of human movement. Students' group presentations include such animations to illustrate their research findings, and these require sharing and collaborating on many large video files. Gross uses Box.net, a cloud-based storage and sharing service, to solve storage and capacity challenges and facilitate student management and coordination of their teamwork. Click here to learn more and watch a short video of Gross discussing this teaching strategy. 

For additional resources about using student teams effectively in a range of course settings, see this section of our website and this recent CRLT Occasional Paper

 

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There's no question that students' writing improves most when they have frequent opportunities for practice and feedback. But instructors sometimes struggle to find ways to provide those opportunities, especially in large courses. One method that many U-M instructors use to good effect is structured peer review. These three faculty members--featured in CRLT's recent Occasional Paper about Online Collaboration Tools (OCTs)--have made creative use of OCTs to facilitate collaborative writing as well as timely, frequent, low-stakes peer feedback: Read more »

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CRLT recently published an Occasional Paper by Assistant Director Chad Hershock and U-M Associate Professor of Political Science Mika LaVaque-Manty detailing a range of innovative ways U-M faculty are teaching with Online Collaboration Tools (OCTs). In the coming weeks, we will highlight sections of this paper on our blog, starting this week with ideas from two Thurnau Professors about ways to promote student engagement and participation in large courses. For the full paper, including recommendations for implementing OCTs effectively and efficiently in teaching, click here.

Although students can easily become passive learners in a traditional lecture setting, with the right approach lectures can be a very effective way to disseminate content efficiently to large numbers of students, to present cutting-edge material not available elsewhere, and to model expert thinking. Here are two examples of U-M instructors who have used OCTs in large courses to increase student interactions and engagement.  Read more »

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Online collaboration tools, such as Google Apps, are revolutionizing workplace productivity and teamwork. These technologies also provide tremendous opportunities to enhance teaching, learning, and course management. Because keeping up with the evolution of new instructional technologies can be challenging, CRLT has posted some new resources focused on U-M teachers who are successfully integrating these tools into their courses: 

  • CRLT's webpage on online collaboration tools features short videos, descriptions, and examples of U-M instructors teaching effectively with these technologies.
  • Similarly, CRLT's Occasional Paper No. 31 (pdf), describes how various online collaboration tools can address common teaching challenges across course types and disciplines. Additionally, it provides recommendations on how to implement these instructional technologies easily, effectively, and efficiently.

And here are several other resources we provide to support your effective use of instructional technologies:  Read more »

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