One of topics on the discussion board this week is “group work.” As a strong believer and practitioner of collaborative learning, the topic of group work really peeks my interest. In fact, my second journal entry for this 3250 course is about group work, (please click on the journal icon to access my assignment).

As I make my way through the all the wonderful posts and investigate the links made available by my peers on the discussion board, it seems that the most successful and effective group work occurs when it is carried out by members of a group working as a team…but is a group not the same as team? According to Kristen Arnold –The Extraordinary Team Blog, there are differences between the two.

“A group is a collection of people whereas a team is that same collection of people who are working together on a common goal.”

Kristen illustrates the difference in this scenario, “A group of people walk into an elevator.  They all have different goals and agendas for being on the elevator.  The group becomes a team when the elevator breaks down.  Now they all have the same goal: Get out of the elevator!”

Even if a team has a shared goal (like getting out of the elevator), the success of the team will depend on the individual’s ability to work in collaboration with others. To assume that adult learners have the skill set to work successfully in groups in a collaborative manner as soon as they enter the learning environment would (in my opinion), be presumptuous on the part of the instructor. I agree with Richardson (2011. Para.1.) who states that, “collaboration needs to be seen as a process that happens over time, and that the crucial groundwork for successful collaboration needs to be laid before the “actual” collaborative work happens.”

Collaboration is a team sport and you need to warm up:

By engaging the students in safe and supportive team building activities prior to implementing group work, I believe that we can help lay the foundation needed for successful collaboration. This site offers some great activities that can help us work towards that goal.