Manage group work online

WHAT and WHEN this tool/approach is to be used

This resource is useful for staff who are planning group work online. The resource is relevant to synchronous small group work using live audio-visual technologies (e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts) and text-based/visual synchronous or asynchronous small group work using Moodle wikis, discussion fora, Jamboard etc.

Why would a teacher use this approach/tool, and link to the 4C features

Small group work supports collaboration, facilitates more wide-spread participation, encourages learner-autonomy, helps students to develop communication and teamwork skills, provides opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and peer support, and builds and sustains a sense of a learning community. 

However, in remote settings, constructive small group work is harder to facilitate and moderate and comes with distinct challenges. For example, students may be unfamiliar with each other and with online group work, and online communication can encourage a sense of anonymity, informality and unmoderated directness. This resource offers some recommendations and presents good practice in managing these and other challenges and creating positive, consistent and effective online group work learning experiences.

How to use this approach/tool

Some groups meet on a one-off basis, others for a longer period of time. Apply the suggestions below in a way relevant to your intended groupwork activities.

Inclusivity and Accessibility review

Raising students' awareness of each other's needs, constraints and challenges, and encouraging peer accommodation of accessibility-related requests, facilitates a more inclusive and accessible teaching and learning experience.

Review ISPs for issues with group work and support students/provide alternative options where feasible.

Ensure all relevant activities are added to the Student Study Plan for the module in question.

All online resources should be compatible with the UK Digital Accessibility Standards 2020. See Creating Digitally Accessible Learning and Teaching Materials Brookes Moodle course.

Use the Blackboard Ally tool to help check the accessibility of the content you have prepared (available within Moodle late July - early August 2020).


  • Andrea Macrae