Designing for Social Learning - Taking the "Groan" Out of Group Work

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In this session, we will discuss evidence-based practices that effectively take the “groan” out of group work. We will reflect on our social learning experiences, as well as share ways to create social learning in course design and instruction through the use of a collaborative Padlet board.


My work experience has showcased my ability to be an engaging educator, an innovative designer, and a successful trainer in the field of education and business. I have shown my dedication to creating a thriving education business and a flourishing professional learning community through my initiative, collaboration, and creativity in problem-solving and design. I have a Certification for the Fundamentals of Online Teaching from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and Public Policy from Ashford University, Clinton, Iowa, and a Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Saint Xavier University, Chicago, IL.

Extended Abstract

Why are people so passionate about social learning, either for it or against it? If we say the word group work, why do people groan aloud? What makes us have such a strong emotional response to group work when we all need to learn how to work well with others?

Is creating social learning opportunities in online learning vital to student success? How do we prepare students for the workforce of the future without social learning? How do we foster communication, teamwork, diversity, and collaboration with no interactions between students?

What are the steps to design effective social learning? What questions should be asked in the designing of social learning? What are some best practices for providing opportunities for social learning in course design and instruction?

These are just a few of the questions we will discuss as we examine evidence-based practices for designing and using social learning in online courses. We will look at examples of both traditional group work and non-traditional group work. We will analyze the positive and negative effect on student outcomes of both traditional and non-traditional group work.  We will also discuss guiding questions for designing, technology tools that support social learning, and the challenges of implementing social learning in online courses.

Conversation Topics & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

Topic 1 – Are personal experiences and biases influencing the instruction and design of social learning?

  • Do you have a negative or positive view of social learning?
  • Share an example of social learning you experienced?
    • What elements of group work supported your learning and performance?
    • Were there elements of group work that weren’t effective?
    • How could these elements be changed or adapted to support success?
    • How did it influence your view of group work?
  • Has your opinion of social learning changed?

Topic 2 – What is the importance of social learning opportunities in online learning?

  • Do you think providing students with social learning opportunities is essential?
  • How do we create learning opportunities that support diversity, respect, and empathy?
  • How do we foster a sense of community and belonging in an online learning environment?
  • How do we improve students’ ability to communicate and collaborate?
  • How can we support soft or transferable skills that will prepare students for the future workforce?

Topic 3 – What are some evidence-based practices for designing and instructing with social learning?

  • How do you engage students in social learning opportunities?
  • What types of group work have you used/designed in online and blended learning?
  • What are some best practices for creating buy-in for social learning?
  • What technology tools do you use to provide opportunities for social learning?

This session will use Padlet for reflection and discussion. You can download the App from Google Play to your phone, and a link will be provided for laptop use. Participants will receive a digital handout with guiding questions for designing social learning as well as research on social learning. The digital handout will be accessed through a QR code.