Group Work at a Distance

Ever since the Keystone Conference last year, I’ve wanted to try out an idea I learned from Carol Fleck and Kim Perry, two teachers who videoconference together on a regular basis to team teach a class. Their presentation at Keystone was titled, Together in the Trenches: Two Teachers Share the REAL Story of Daily Videoconferencing. One thing they shared was how their students work together in groups. To make the two classes into one class, they have groups that are made up of students from both sites. They rotate through using VC, phone, and web communication tools to communicate for group work.

This week with the workshop we’re doing with Lamar and Paris ISD in Texas, most of the groups consist of teachers from each of the three sites. We’ve been rotating between using VC and chat/discussion group spaces. I highly recommend this format! It was certainly challenging for the participants to meet via a chat after doing a VC, but the incredible value of planning a project with teachers that you can actually do the project with! Here’s quote from one of the reflection blogs:

I think that the best part is that you can actually implement what you are planning, because you are already partnered with people from other areas. 🙂

The participants have been great and flexible in using the various technologies to work with each other – even to the point of giving up some of their VC time to another group who needed it more!

So I encourage others of you doing PD to partner up with another site like we did because of the amazing value for the participants in the class.

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About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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