Exercise: Synchronous/Asynchronous Group Project

Summary of Example Activity

Students work with participants at each site to complete a group project that is posted online or sent to the instructor electronically. Students can be assigned a project or choose from a list of topics that are central to the curriculum of both courses. Students can be assigned groups or choose their own collaborative team after an introductory or icebreaker activity (but ensure each group has students from each site). After the activity is completed students can participate in a reflection on their experience completing the group project and working with students from another institution. Good projects include: co-written papers, powerpoint/prezi presentation, photo essay, storyboard, blog etc.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of their chosen topic.
  • Demonstrate critical thought about their chosen topic by answering peer questions.
  • Explore how course topics are differently understood and experienced.
  • Evaluate resources for accuracy and quality.
  • Develop an understanding of how to work within different learning styles, regional/national perspectives and time zones.
  • Develop online inter-cultural communication skills
  • Reflect on the skills necessary and the challenges one must overcome to work on a national/international collaboration.

Materials and Data Needed

Before the project, students should be introduced to the new class either through written material or an introductory lecture/video from each of the collaborating classrooms. Students will need access to a common textbook or material from which to begin their research, online library systems and likely a list of resources that might guide them through the beginning of the research process. For this particular exercise, a diversity of resources is a strength and students should be encouraged to share their findings and the location of these resources with each other so that they might critically evaluate the accuracy and quality of each resource.

Technology Needed

Students will need a way to communicate formally through the messaging function of a learning management system like Moodle, Blackboard, or informally through email, Google Chat/Hangout, video conferencing software or social media tools like Facebook. Students will also require access to collaborative tools to build and/or storyboard their project such as cloud software like Microsoft OneNote or Google docs.

Estimated Time

Students should be assigned their groups at the beginning of the semester and be encouraged to begin planning for the project as early as possible. Because of communication issues and other barriers, students should have at least 4-6 weeks to complete the project.


  1. Design the assignment with the instructor at the other site.
  2. At the beginning of the term, students should be introduced to the assignment and receive introductory material about the collaborating classroom (read material, watch a video or a presentation from the instructor or selected students from the other class.)
  3. Students are assigned to a topic by the instructors or choose from a list of topics that are central to the curriculum in both classes. Students also choose or are assigned groups that consist of members from both classrooms (groups of 4-6 with equal numbers from each site).
  4. Students are given the parameters of the project and directed to begin communication with group members, plan weekly check-ins, and create a schedule for completing the project. They should also discuss group members strengths and assign tasks accordingly.
  5. Students meet over the course of 4-6 weeks and complete the project using email and cloud or other collaborative tools.
  6. Students complete a group evaluation, give feedback on the assignment and reflect on their experiences working with their group.