Project work is a frequently used method for collaborative learning which is applied to all age groups. Project work is suitable for homework as it involves a more extensive survey and independent work in small groups.
Strategies for implementation in an online environment
In VEDAMO Virtual Classroom it is recommended that within one session the tutor determines the project topics and participants’ team distribution, and gives working instructions. Project work is carried out as independent work among learners within the teams. That is why it is recommended to blend synchronous sessions in the Virtual Classroom with self-paced preparation in the Learning Management System (LMS). In the next session in the Virtual Classroom each team presents their project whereas for the organisation of the process the LMS tools are applied. Between the first and the last sessions time can be allotted for a short interim session in the Virtual Classroom with each team for providing consultation and additional directions.
Through this method the tutor divides the participants into small groups and assigns topics on which each group carry out their own project. Each group can prepare their project collaboratively in the VEDAMO LMS. Following work completion groups present their own results in front of the others in the Virtual Classroom and receive feedback from them. Here the tutor’s role is more guiding (facilitating). Learners have a leading role as they are expected to actively participate and be motivated for independent completion of their tasks.
When doing project work students can be assigned to prepare materials and organise them in slides to present to the others in a final session. Project topics can be related to any subject area – both from the humanities and natural sciences. As for younger learners project topics should match their experience and be related with objects, phenomena, and situations from the environment close to them.
Older students can work on projects covering more complex and abstract themes requiring more time for survey and preparation.
The key advantages in this method’s implementation are related with the possibility of learners themselves becoming creators of study content which can easily be shared. Acquiring skills for developing their own study materials for peers adds meaning and purpose to the active learner participation and motivates learners for performing in-depth studies and a more creative informational presentation. The VEDAMO LMS functionalities allow for the original children’s designs to be stored and become easily accessible when working with other groups (as long as participants give their consent).
Application of the method in the three forms of implementation
In project work the form of discourse is the most prominent whereas interaction is slightly more restricted and teamwork is present only in group project work.
The method is completely relevant to the main part of the virtual lesson. Due to the possibility of transfer from a previous session to the current one in terms of presenting solutions and reporting results, the method is suitable for triggering interest in the very beginning of the lesson.