ION | Illinois Online Network

Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality

Group Work Online

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This instructor-led, four-week, fully-online course will explore the idea of using groups as an instructional strategy in online courses. In addition to group formation and pedagogy, participants will work in teams throughout the course.


Participants will be responsible for securing a copy of Collaborating Online by Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2005. The text will be central to the course. It can be ordered through Amazon at


Faculty and staff who want to acquire pedagogical and instructional skills needed to successfully implement group work in their courses.


Participants will explore in depth the following topics:

  • Pedagogical value of groups
  • Models of group development
  • Roles of group members
  • Pairs, trios and larger groups
  • Faculty responsibilities in group work
  • Problems in groups
  • Tools to facilitate group work


Module 1: Of what value is collaboration? How do teams form? Module 2: What stages do groups work through when collaborating? What role should the instructor take in helping groups form and begin work? Module 3: What are some of the biggest obstacles to group functioning? In what ways can an instructor health groups avoid or work through challenges? Module 4: How should a group or instructor evaluate the effectiveness of the collaboration?


Participants will be able to design and facilitate more effective group projects for their online courses.


  • Review theory of group development.
  • Describe group member roles.
  • Determine under what circumstances pairs and trios are more effective than larger groups.
  • Articulate expectations of group process and product.
  • Develop a sample group project.
  • Determine the appropriate role of the facilitator.


Four weeks plus a few days for warm up.




  • Log into the course a minimum of three times a week to stay active and involved.
  • Read the assigned chapters in the text and any additional web-based materials.
  • Answer weekly discussion questions related to the assigned Web articles or accomplish assigned tasks within groups.
  • Engage in positive and meaningful dialog with classmates concerning the course subject matter.
  • Serve as an active team member in the completion of a group task.


Completely online in the environment


As much as 6 to 8 hours per week

Credit Options


A fee is incurred for anyone enrolled in an Advanced Online Seminar, although there is a discount for ION members. (Only Diamond level ION partners are exempt.) The fee is determined by the number of contact hours and online discussion requirements for the course. To view the fee schedule for a specific section of this course, visit the Schedule and click on the link for that section (e.g. TM1051).

Taking a course for Graduate Credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS):
Most MVCR courses [not the Advanced Online Seminars] may be taken for graduate credit through UIS. You do not pay twice if you choose this route. You pay only the tuition and fees associated with UIS enrollment. If you choose to enroll through UIS, you need to follow the instructions. You do not register through this site.

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Taking Courses for Academic Credit

Most 8-week MVCR courses can also be taken for academic credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Suggested Tracks

Instruction Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Encouraging Comm.
  • Elective
  • Practicum

Technology Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Technology Tools
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Elective (Multimedia or Sims, Labs, Games, and VR)
  • Practicum

Support Professional

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Universal Design
  • Elective (Supporting Students, Copyright, Global eLearning, Blended/Hybrid, Librarians Collaborating, Multimedia Principles)
  • Practicum

COLA - track

  • Administration Seminar
  • Quality Assurance
  • Issues and Strategies in Faculty Training
  • Supporting Students Online

Choose one of the following three for your elective:

  • Administration of Online Programs
  • Copyright
  • Blended - Hybrid Learning Design and Instruction
  • Practicum for Administrators
What They're Saying
"I would like to "borrow" your on-line course wholesale and adapt it to my future on-line courses. You have some excellent ideas for how to implement group projects."     

MVCR Participant

Award winning courses

The MVCR program won the Award for Excellence in ALN Faculty Develop-ment (in conjunction with other ION programs) from the Sloan-consortium in 2002. One of our instructors won the WebCT Exemplary Online Course Award for an MVCR course as well.

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