Engaging students in real-world projects online


JULY, 2021

Project-based learning
Digital Learning
Team Collaboration

Through collaborative assignments such as group projects, students can apply their learning in a practical, real-world scenario and develop their teamwork skills. As part of ‘Information Systems in Practice’, a capstone unit in the Master of Information Systems, students work for an industry client on a consultancy style project that involves solving information systems problems. Associate Professor Bardo Fraunholz, unit chair, supported by Vivek Venkiteswaran, implemented Microsoft Teams and Planner to support collaborative learning.

Key considerations to engage students in online project work

Prof. Fraunholz brought to the fore the need for instructors to have oversight of the group work to facilitate positive and constructive interactions between students and monitor team members’ contributions to the project. By having oversight, instructors can better support students who may lag in their project work through customised guidance and support.

There should also be transparency so that various stakeholders, including industry clients that students are working with, can keep track of project progress. Transparency promotes ‘accountability for learning’, as emphasised by Vivek. Students develop essential project management and collaborative skills and are encouraged to take ownership of their learning.

Another consideration is the assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes. Prof. Fraunholz contends that, beyond assessing the final artefact produced from the collaborative project, it is also important for students to be individually assessed based on their contributions to the work. Individual assessment decreases the risk of ‘social loafing’ and ‘free riding’.

Find out more

In the episode of our tales of teaching podcast entitled Designing and Supporting Online student project work, Dr Isma Seetal from the Digital Learning Innovations team chats with Prof. Franholz about the capstone project.

Prof. Fraunholz discusses supporting students in their collaborative work and the challenges they encounter. He also shares how Microsoft tools such as Teams and Planner support students in their projects.

Watch the video tour of the Microsoft Teams and Planner area used in the unit to support students in organising their group work and tracking the progress of tasks.

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