Group Projects in E-Learning: Challenges in Planning and Execution

Sharaf Rehman, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Joanna Dzionek-Kozlowska, University of Lodz

Abstract

As the demand for online courses escalates and more and institutions of higher education offer online courses and programs, demands are growing for the content developers and teachers who can retain the students’ attention. Simple talking heads and text-heavy PowerPoints slides are ineffective in online delivery. Creativity, visual variety, and engaging assignments will separate the successful courses from the failed ones. The challenges for the online teachers are further complicated by the demands of the employers who want employees with skills in teamwork and collaboration. Cooperation is deemed more important than leadership. Previous research has shown that learners in traditional classroom settings tend to view group work as non-productive, wasteful, and experiences lacking in inputs from other group members, thus, frustrating the active participants. Many teachers leave the students somewhat unguided on how to complete the assigned group projects. The result: dissatisfaction among the learners, and projects that are of average or below-average quality. This paper offers some suggestions for effectively incorporating group projects in face-to-face teaching and, in online courses.