How to organise an activity where different groups have different tasks/texts

Do you need to get groups of students to work on different tasks and or provide each group with a different file/document to work with during a live, online session?

Use this lesson recipe to lead a session in Collaborate in which students 1) work in break out groups 2) receive a file which is different from other groups 3) complete a task in relation to the file you have given each group.

Applications include:

  • working out a solution to a problem before sharing with others.
  • peer teaching where groups each take responsibility for summarising a theory or concept to the others

Visit the hyperlinks in the recipe for specific guidance.

Before the session

  1. Schedule the meeting and let participants know the session name and time, so they can access it in the appropriate Blackboard module.
  2. Download the introduction to Collaborate features animation gif to share at the start of the session.
  3. Decide if you need to run a light-hearted ‘features diagnostic’ e.g.
  4. Develop a question or a problem for your students that has many potential responses. Put this prompt onto a PowerPoint slide so that you can show it during your session.

At the start of the session

  1. Open the scheduled meeting.
  2. Share animation gif so students are reminded of functionalities they can use (Share > Share Files > Upload the gif file, select it and choose Share Now). Pro tip: The animation will then play on a loop to users.  The animation stops either when you share something else (e.g. a PowerPoint) or when you stop sharing the file.
  3. Interact with students either by using the chat pane or by using your microphone.
  4. Run a features diagnostic/intro if necessary (see above for ideas).

During the session

  1. Inform students that you’ll put them into breakout rooms to share their responses. Explain that each group will receive a different task/text or file depending on your session objectives.
  2. Designate a time limit before opening the break out rooms. Pro Tip: As the time needed to move into breakout rooms can vary slightly depending on participants’ bandwidth, state a time when you will close the breakout rooms).
  3. Assign students to break out rooms and remember to press ‘start’.
  4. From the main room, provide each group with the file they need by using the ‘share file’ feature. Pro Tip: You will need to assign the file to each group one by one. If you have a small number of break out groups, then this shouldn’t take long. If you have will have a large number of break out groups, consider setting up the break out rooms before the scheduled session start time.
  5. Monitor the main room or move between rooms to listen in/support. Pro Tip: If there is no-one in the main room and you have chosen to record the session, the recording will stop (not pause) while students and moderators are going about their business in the break out rooms. Restart the recording in the main room once everyone is back in or arrange for someone to stay in the main room.
  6. Close the rooms at the designated time to bring all students back into the main room. Pro Tip: It can take a little while for all students to come back to the main room,
  7. Once all students have been moved back into the main room, ask for 2 – 3 volunteers to take turns and share their group’s ideas. Promote/change a student’s role to presenter, if they have an image/file they need to share with the others.
  8. Invite final comments, questions either by raising their hands and using their mics to speak.

Top tips

  • Try out Collaborate and familiarise yourself with how to resolve issues that students might encounter.
  • Turn off notifications you don’t want to see/hear via Settings in the Collaborate panel.
  • Stop the recording if you started recording. If you make other colleagues or students moderators, they can stop the recording, too.
  • If you recorded the session, remember that it can take some time for the video to process and therefore it might not show immediately.
  • Tell students they can stay in the meeting if they wish. You don’t need to be present for the meeting to continue and by leaving the meeting open you provide additional opportunities to for students to interact.