Hello! Is There Anyone There? Experiencing and Tackling the Pitfalls of Teaching Group Activities in an Online Digital Environment

Workshop Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract


This workshop is designed using cyberpsychology to literally leave participants in the dark about what their fellow group members are doing . It consists of two different activities which replicate the ambiguous atmosphere of working online as well as focussing on strategies to combat social loafing and  miscommunication online.



I currently lecture in Applied Psychology and Cyberpsychology as well on the teaching and learning courses. My main research areas are in the areas of Altruism and service learning, as well as mobile learning . I have written several chapters and journal articles on Cyberpsychology and am co-editor of a text book " An Introduction to Cyberpsychology"

Extended Abstract

The aim of the workshop is to give participants ( maximum number 20) a literal  hands on experience of the conditions that working in an online group entails.  This interactive workshop is divided into two different challenging activities. The learning objectives of the first activity are to

  1. allow participants to recognise the importance of an effective communication system when working in the digital environment.
  2. to give the participants an understanding of how social loafing and culture can impact the dynamics of an online learning group.

 Both activities are designed to replicate the  ambiguous atmosphere of working in an online group. 


The workshop will begin with an introduction to online groups and what we know from Cyberpsychology about how people behave in them. This will last about 10 minutes.  The first activity involves the participants (20 max) to be blindfolded while trying to solve a problem which requires them to identify and solve a problem with each participant being given a piece of the problem. The learning activity is designed to give the  hands on experience of  literally being in the dark about  what information   the other group members possess and what they are actually doing  to solve the problem. This interactive exchange of information to solve the problem will last 20 – 25 minutes , at the end of which the group must present the answer to the problem. Debriefing which will look at how each member developed their own style of managing the information. Participants will be invited to share how they established a common understanding of the task despite culture differences using only dialogue .Participants will be invited to discuss how they used effective listening skills to create an inclusive group atmosphere. The whole group discussion will also ask participants to think about accessibility and  whether the experience of being blindfolded gave them some insight into issues of  inclusivity .The phenomenon of social loafing and strategies to  reduce it in a digital setting will  be presented as well as strategies for effective communication online. This debrief and discussion section will last 20 minutes.



The second activity in the workshop allows members  to break into smaller groups to solve an   allocated problem  by reaching group consensus using any  method of computer mediated communication(CMC) ( text, messenger, Instagram, Twitter ) that they wish.

The main learning outcome of activity 2 is allow participants to experience the processes in trying to achieve group consensus using CMC.  

This second interactive activity will last 20 minutes. Participants will need to have access to any mobile technological device such as mobile phone, ipad, or laptop  that will allow them to communicate with the other members of the smaller groups. Participants will be asked to reflect on issues of accessibility and inclusivity within their groups. Participants will be given a Likert scale to allow them to rate their experience on  how they felt personally using only computer mediated communications and how effective the group’s decision making was.. Participants will be asked to reflect on the process of how the group reached consensus and to share those reflections with the larger group. Strategies to reduce  misunderstandings  and to enhance group decision making in online digital learning environments will be provided . Engagement and Inclusivity will also be raised and advice on how to promote them in online groups will be presented. The feedback and discussion section from the small groups to the large group will last about 15 minutes.


This workshop will be informative to any educator who uses group activities in the digital environment. It will introduce some topics from Cyberpsychology and apply them to the two different learning activities presented in the workshop. It will be a hands on session which will inform participants through learning by doing. The tips and strategies provided will enable participants to provide the environment for enhanced communication in online learning groups. This workshop will also be unique in that participants will do two activities that are both challenging yet fun as well as give them real insight to issues of inclusivity and isolation in the digital environment.

The workshop will address themes teaching and learning practice as well as experiential learning and inclusivity.