Group work in online courses? Yes!

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session outlines the challenges for faculty in designing and facilitating collaborative activities in asynchronous online courses. The experiences of students participating in those activities will also be described. 


Laurie Bobley, Ed.D. is a faculty member at Touro College Graduate School of Education and has taught online and onsite courses for eight years in the Education and Special Education programs. During that time, she has also held the position of Director of Graduate School of Education Online Education and is currently Chair of the Special Education Generalist, Grades 7-12 program.
Alan Sebel, Ed.D. ( is an Associate Professor in the Touro College Graduate School of Education School Leadership Program. Prior to joining Touro he was an adjunct professor at St. John’s University in New York. His professional background includes more than thirty years as an educator in New York City. He served in a variety of supervisory titles, ending his career with the New York City Department of Education as Deputy Assistant Superintendent in the Chancellor’s Office of Monitoring and School Improvement (OMSI). Dr. Sebel is a trained Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) site visitor. In this capacity he participates, as a volunteer, during the accreditation process of Colleges and Universities throughout the United States.

Extended Abstract

Best practices for online course design include meaningful interaction between the instructor and the student, the student and the content, and between students (Ko & Rossen, 2010; Palloff & Pratt, 2007; Vai & Sosulski, 2011). Traditionally, in asynchronous online courses, student-to-student interaction most commonly occurs in discussion forums. While discussion forums serve an important purpose in online education, they do not necessarily advance the learners’ ability to meet key competencies and essential 21st century skills; specifically, collaborating to build relationships, share knowledge, and solve problems (InTASC, 2011; Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, 2015). This presentation will describe a strategy to integrate best practices into online course design and simultaneously develop the learners’ capacity to apply these essential skills and competencies in a real world context.

The targeted audience is higher education and secondary education online instructors. The following questions will be addressed:

  • What challenges exist for faculty when designing and facilitating student-to-student interaction in asynchronous online courses?
  • What are the experiences of students participating in cooperative activities in asynchronous online courses?

Through interactive discussion participants will be able to share ideas from their own practice. Participants will:

  • Identify how and when to use collaborative assignments in place of an individual assignment in an online course.
  • Select a task or assignment from a current course that can be converted to a collaborative project.
  • Identify the technological tools that will facilitate collaboration in an online setting.


Council of Chief State School Officers. (2011, April). Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards: A Resource for State Dialogue. Washington, DC: Author.

Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2015). Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015. Reston, VA: Author.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities:   Effective strategies for the virtual classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vai, M., & Sosulski, K. (2011). Essentials of online course design: A standards-based guide. New York, NY: Routledge Press.