Group Work & Labs

Find strategies and instructions for supporting collaborative work online, for when students need to interact in smaller teams or labs.

Facilitate Groups in Canvas | Facilitate Groups in Microsoft Teams | Run Labs

Facilitate Groups in Canvas

One way to organize student group work, projects, and assignments online is to use groups in Canvas. Each group will have its own private group area to work in, which contains announcements, pages, discussions, and files that are shared only within the group.

Canvas has two types of groups: group sets that are managed by you and student groups that are organized by students. You can use both simultaneously in a course. But group sets are the only group type that you can use for grading purposes.

Set up groups in Canvas

Follow UBC how-to instructions

  1. Use groups in your Canvas course

Dive deeper with UBC resources

Explore more about Canvas and read answers to FAQs in UBC’s Canvas instructor guide » and UBC’s Canvas student guide »

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Facilitate Groups in Microsoft Teams

An option to facilitate student group work outside of Canvas is through the all-in-one collaboration tool Microsoft Teams. In Microsoft Teams, students can meet and collaborate through web-conferencing and group chat. The platform also enables file-sharing and real-time document collaboration that is not available in Canvas.

However, it is important to note that Microsoft Teams groups cannot automatically be used in Canvas for grading purposes.

Set up groups in Microsoft Teams

Follow UBC how-to instructions

  1. Install the Microsoft Teams application
  2. Set up a course in Microsoft Teams
  3. Manage your course in Microsoft Teams

Dive deeper with UBC resources

Explore more about Microsoft Teams and read answers to FAQs in UBC’s Microsoft Teams instructor guide » and UBC’s Microsoft Teams student guide »

Microsoft Teams can be used with Microsoft OneDrive, a secure file-hosting service that allows you to store, share, and synchronize up to 1TB of encrypted file storage.

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Run Labs

You can consider several approaches in moving labs online. Approaches are dependent on the context, so consult with your faculty, department, school, or program for guidelines too.

Please note that if you are running labs requiring specialized software, you and your students can log in to UBC workstations and computer labs remotely. Follow the steps for accessing labs on Vancouver campus or accessing labs on Okanagan campus. Alternatively, you and your students can download certain open-source lab software for free.

Consider approaches to online labs

  • Have students run an online simulation: 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, and provide opportunities for practice.
  • Enact a sample lab for students: If the lab uses unfamiliar equipment or processes (from the student perspective), use a webcam to record an instructor or teaching assistant doing the experiment. If the lab uses relatively familiar equipment and processes (or requires close-ups hard to capture), use slides with annotated still images to substitute for the experiment. Post the video/slides wherever you share course content, along with any related data. Ask students to write up a modified lab based on what they observe.
  • Provide sample data for students: Post sample data for the experiment wherever you are sharing course content. Ask students to write up a modified lab that preserves the data analysis, error analysis, and any other components of the lab that you feel can easily be done remotely.
  • Provide a toolkit for students: Put together a toolkit that can be sent to each student to complete the lab individually at home. Note that some toolkit materials may need to be replaced by what can be sent by mail. To mimic as much as possible what would be happening in a physical lab, coordinate with students to run the labs at home when they can get synchronous feedback from the teaching team.

A video sample lab can take time to develop, but it might be the best approach when the process and use of the equipment are very intricate. Watch the UBC Studios quick video recording tips » for help.

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

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

The above lab suggestions were adapted from tips arising from community conversations among 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 site Creative Commons license.

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