Group Work & Labs

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These are ways of supporting work where students need to collaborate or interact in smaller teams and labs.

Set Up Groups | Let Students Manage Groups | Run Labs


Set Up Groups

The easiest way to organize student group work, projects, and assignments is to use groups in Canvas. First, follow the instructions for setting up a Canvas course, if you haven’t already.

Canvas has two types of groups: group sets and student groups. Group sets are groups that you control and can be used for grading purposes.

Using Canvas group sets

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click People in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Group Set blue button in the upper right side of the screen to create a new group set.
    • Give your group set a name. It’s important to include the course name in this name to make it easier for students to find.
    • Allow self sign-up, if you wish. This allows students to move between groups.
    • Choose to automatically split students into x number of groups or to create groups manually.
  3. Save your group set.
  4. You can now manage which students are in which groups for this set.
  5. Once groups are populated, students will be able to access a group area containing pages, discussions, and files that are shared privately among members of their group.

Group sets house the different groups you use within a course. For example, if you wanted students to work on Assignment 1 and Assignment 2 in different groups, you would create two group sets: “PSYC 101 – Assign 1” and “PSYC 101 – Assign 2”.

For real-time collaboration, you can also have groups use the web-conferencing tool Collaborate Ultra »

Learn more about Canvas groups »


Let Students Manage Groups

The easiest way to organize student group work, projects, and assignments is to use groups in Canvas. First, follow the instructions for setting up a Canvas course, if you haven’t already.

Canvas has two types of groups: group sets and student groups. Student groups can be created by either an instructor or a student, but are self-organized by students and cannot be used for grading purposes.

Enabling Canvas student groups

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Course Details tab.
  3. Click more options at the bottom of the tab.
  4. Click the Let students organize their own groups checkbox.
  5. Click Update Course Details.
  6. When new student groups are created, they will display on the “Student Groups tab” on the People page.

Allowing student groups in a course means students can create their own study groups to collaborate on projects, discuss topics, and schedule meetings.

Refer your students to learn more in the People and Groups section of the Canvas student guide »


Run Labs

There are several different approaches instructors can take for moving labs online.

Note: In cases where a) labs have been running all term and only a few are left, and b) the value for remaining labs is relatively low, you can consider cancelling one or more of the labs and redistributing grade weight. With the March 16, 2020 transition to online classes for the remainder of the term, this is allowable under UBC Vancouver’s Senate Syllabus Policy V-130. (You can read more about late syllabus changes.)

Suggestions for moving labs online

Have students run an online simulation

  1. In cases where a simulation activity could replace a physical activity (e.g., electronics labs), modify the lab so students can complete it remotely using online software.

Enact a sample lab for students

  1. If the lab uses unfamiliar equipment or processes (from the student perspective):
    • Use a webcam to record an instructor or lab technician doing the experiment.
  2. If the lab uses relatively familiar equipment and processes (from the student perspective) or requires close-up views hard to capture on video:
    • Use slides with annotated still images to substitute for the experiment.
  3. Post the video and/or slides wherever you are sharing course content, along with any lab data.
  4. Ask students to write up a modified lab based on what they observe.

Provide sample data for students

  1. Post sample data for the experiment wherever you are sharing course content with students.
  2. Ask students to write up a modified lab that preserves the data analysis, error analysis, and any other components of the lab you feel can easily be done remotely.

Tip #1:
A video sample lab can be time consuming to develop, but it might be the best approach when the process and use of the equipment are very intricate.

Tip #2:
For compiling sample lab slides and annotated images, consider requesting support from your teaching assistants.

Tip #3:
A sample data lab is especially helpful if the recording or annotating process would be lengthy, unmanageable, or would not add value.

Check out UBC Studios’s quick tips for recording videos »

The above lab suggestions were adapted from tips arising from community conversations amongst the engineering deans, faculty, and staff of Canada. Copyright and all rights are reserved to the original authors, and the list is exempt from the keepteaching.ubc.ca site Creative Commons license.

Learn more

Contact the Learning Technology Hub for hands-on assistance:
604.827.4775 | lt.hub@ubc.ca | LIVE Online Support (Mon-Fri 9:00-4:30)


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