The advantages of team-based and group-based learning are clear, ranging from more opportunities to engage in social learning to greater levels of accountability, but how do you take advantage of the team and group tools on NovoEd’s online learning platform? Although both are based in social learning, they provide different distinct advantages and opportunities.

Groups are the less structured of the two – a learner can join an infinite number of course groups and tend to be larger in size. There are two main situations to use groups:

  • Affiliation Groups provide an excellent opportunity for learners to join with other like minded learners whether based on geographic region, work specialization, company, or even interests. These groups provide an opportunity for learners to interact outside of the communal discussion board to share thoughts related to their group, such as relevant articles, or even arrange in-person meetups.
  • Informal Feedback Groups are an excellent mechanism to use for more informal feedback. Learners can request feedback on a deliverable from the rest of their group members, and a discussion can be developed to provide great feedback for the requesting learner. Usually this feedback is provided in the context of affiliation groups.

Teams, on the other hand, are more structured than groups – a learner can only be on one course team at a time, and teams have the ability to submit an assignment together for team deliverables. When should teams be used?

  • Team-Based Projects – If the main project for the course is to be completed with other participants, a team should be used. This can include pitching a solution to a society or company challenge or producing a creative problem-solving prototype with other teammates to increase the diversity of perspectives represented.
  • Team-Based One-Off Deliverables – Teams can also be used to both a) supplement individual projects and b) enhance content understanding through one-off deliverables. If there is a mandatory feedback component to an individual project, a team can be used to provide feedback. The feedback can be given in multiple different ways, including engaging activities, such as a role play. Additionally, there are many other one-off team assignments that can be used to enhance understanding of course material, including team analysis of case studies or other examples in context of the course content.

When using either teams or groups, make sure the purpose is clear to the learners – you want to make sure the learner understands the value being provided. The best uses will enable learners to understand what they will gain from the social interactions, and orient them towards taking full advantage of the social learning opportunities provided.

What about using teams and groups together? Teams and groups can be used together, but we recommend some caution if you decide to use both. In order to avoid overwhelming learners, using both effectively requires being extra clear about the purposes for each. Additionally, you want to avoid overlap between similar types of activities, such as having groups be responsible for informal feedback and teams also being responsible for a more formal feedback.

Good luck with using teams and groups – we look forward to seeing how you use teams and groups effectively in your next course!

If you enjoyed this content, be sure to also check out our Formal and Informal Feedback article.