Facilitating group-work in Talis Elevate

Introduction 

For large cohorts, facilitating work in groups can be required to ensure students’ are given the focus they require for support, guidance, and effective facilitation. Currently, in Talis Elevate, we do not have capabilities to facilitate a grouping structure. This is intentional at this stage, to ensure that Talis Elevate is a simple to use tool that doesn't duplicate functionality available in your local VLE 

This document outlines some of the recommended options you have for facilitating group activity in Elevate via your VLE. We also give suggestions on approaches you may wish to take towards alternative group work facilitation. 

Utilising Group structures in the VLE 

Within the VLE, you will have the capabilities for creating, organising, and managing groups. The functionality in this area will vary dependent on your VLE. Unfortunately, most VLE’s do not allow for a group activity to be based around LTI Components, meaning you need to add the URL or embed the iFrame for Talis Elevate resources directly into an element of the group environment. 

Process

In Talis Elevate 

  1. Upload a file into your Talis Elevate module for each group via app.talis.com. Make sure you name these clearly so you know which group each document relates to 
  2. Click on the ellipsis (3 dots to the right of the document name) and copy either the URL or the embed code 
  3. In the VLE, create your group environments, or navigate to them if already available. 
  4. Add the file to that group area 
  5. Repeat the process for other groups  

Working in Teams

Talis Elevate allows for more than one academic to be connected to a module. You can join other modules when logged in by joining another module as a teacher

If you are using Talis Elevate as part of an integrated service (i.e. you can upload content directly to Talis Elevate from within your VLE), by doing this, you'll automatically be added to the Talis Elevate module as a teacher. This means you will receive notifications and be able to access the analytics for the module via app.talis.com 

Positives 

  • You'll have access to all the content and insight on the module 

  • You'll be able to work together to create the course 

  • You can do all this from within the VLE if you are using an integrated experience

Limitations 

  • As students' will all be on the same module in Talis Elevate, they will receive notifications from those groups they are not part of. This means they would also be able to access the resources and discussions from other groups  

Setting up Study groups as independent modules in Talis Elevate 

Even if you are using Talis Elevate as part of an integrated experience, you can still create standalone modules in Talis Elevate. This means you can create a standalone 'study group' for sharing files with specific groups of students. This is a good option if you want to keep groups more distinct and ensure there's no crossover or access issues around groups 

Positives 

  • This approach means there's no crossover between groups. Each Talis Elevate group is entirely standalone 
  • Each Talis Elevate module can be treated differently, you can upload distinct resources to the group 
  • Academic colleagues can still join your groups if desired, for sharing insight and resources 

Limitations 

  • You will need to upload resources independently of others teaching other course groups
  • This can be quite complex to administer if you are trying to access and navigate through all the individual groups activity (e.g. if you are a module leader). You'll need to join each group
  • This can only be done using the native experience (e.g. manually creating a module via the Module Manager, and sharing URL/Embed codes to the specific groups in your VLE) 
  • If you are planning on using scanned chapters that have come via the Digitisations service, these unfortunately only work at course level, as we need to match the course codes between Talis Aspire and Talis Elevate

Process

  • Navigate to app.talis.com 
  • Login, and create a new module
  • Give the module a title, code, and date range. If you see the typeahead appearing you can amend these later if you select one
  • Upload your resources 
  • Share those resources within your group area in the VLE. Remember, you can also share a 'playlist' of content if you want to share all the resources in one go

 

Disagree and Commit group structures 

A common approach often taken in Team-Based Learning activity is based around groups assigning roles to each member of the group, either based on their personal strengths or alternatively, areas for personal development. An example of this is detailed below 

Student A- Spokesperson

Student B- Note Taker

Student C- Analyst 

Student D- Chair 

Student E- Researcher 

Whilst these roles aren’t explicit for each user, they form a basic agreement around roles and responsibilities within the group environment. 

As part of this, adopting a ‘disagree and commit’ approach to group activity can help students’ get more involved with group work and help give life experience around reaching consensus, working collaboratively, and other soft skills essential for professional life. 

This approach often found as a key management practice particularly in software development encourages an approach for reaching consensus, requires users to openly speak out about disagreements with a proposal or hypothesis being presented by team members. The team do not move forward with a proposal until a consensus on the approach to take, or commentary to add is reached. Once the whole team agree on the approach being taken, this is the point when activity can progress.

In the Talis Elevate scenario, the main body of group activity takes place outside of Elevate itself. The key principle is focussing on the soft skills around collaboration and reaching an agreement. Students’ work on annotation of resources using the personal notes feature. Once a consensus has been reached around the task at hand, the spokesperson for each group annotates the resource in the class comments section, badging the comment with their group name. This limits the volume of individual user annotations being made but still ensures the key themes of discussion are portrayed throughout the specific resource/s

Whole cohort discussion 

Of course, utilising Talis Elevate for a whole cohort is an option here. You will typically (with any activity, technology adoption or face to face interaction) find that a large proportion of the cohort will stay quiet on activity. However, we’ve found that we are able to lower the barrier to entry for students’ by promoting the anonymity feature available within Talis Elevate. 

Students are able to self select if they write a comment showing their name or anonymously at point of writing the comment. For many, this enables them to speak up with the comfort they aren’t exposing themselves if perceived as asking a potentially stupid question. 

It should be noted that with large levels of discussion, this can be off-putting for quieter students. Many reports that the vocal minority can often take over a task. It is again, important, to build expectations and limits into your activity to try and mitigate this. 

Examples 

  • Ask each student to comment 3 times maximum on a resource
  • Detail the type of discussion elements you’d like communicated. For example, avoid simple responses like ‘agree’, and give detail on why 
  • Promote the anonymity feature; particularly important for those who have less confidence in speaking out in a class environment. 

Want to discuss this in more detail with our Learning Technologies Lead? Raise a support ticket via the link below in this widget. 

 

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