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Learner-Led Collaborative Modules
Learner-Led Collaborative Modules

A team of students working together to plan and manage a Module

Shane Krukowski avatar
Written by Shane Krukowski
Updated over a week ago

A learner-led collaborative Module is initiated and executed by a group of students working as a team. Headrush simplifies the management of a learner-led group project by:

  • Keeping all communications about the project in one place, and in one system

  • Giving all learners equal visibility to work as it progresses

  • Combining activity shared by learners in a single point of view

  • Giving learners multiple ways to organize shared tasks and track progress

  • Supporting a healthy group culture by providing transparency to group contributions, levels of effort, and participation

  • Supporting on-going assessment, particularly with rubrics to evaluate not only products but the quality of progress and collaboration within the group

In this article, we focus on the differences between group projects and individual Learner projects as managed in Headrush. However, there are numerous cultural and social differences between these types of projects. As an Advisor, your role is critical in helping Learners create a strong collaborative culture within their group. While evaluating projects, be sensitive to:

  • The distribution of workload across learners -- ensure that learners are sharing work equally and that no one is overloaded

  • Participation of learners in the project -- ensure that learners are engaged and contributing regularly, especially in support of their teammates

  • Feedback between learners -- not just from the Advisor -- can make or break the quality of a good group

The Headrush Dashboard, Activity view, and Assessment framework provide many tools to simplify the management of group projects on both the social and productive dimensions required for a successful project.

Example Learner-led Collaborative Module from Scratch

A Learner-led Collaborative Module can be built just like a single Learner-Led Module, with a group of Learners choosing the project's vision, key questions, and objectives. If starting the module from scratch, the team of students likely will work through a workflow for eventual approval from advisors. If copying from a template or inspired example Module, the team may likely focus more on modifying and managing tasks to the particulars of the team’s effort instead. The main distinction is that they will add additional Learners as 'Creators' in the Module Overview, so these other Learners can participate in the definition of the Module's Overview, Task Board, and Targets.

Learners Sarah, Kam, and Anne lead the project definition

In this example, Sarah Birch is developing a Community Mapping project, so she will need the help of other students both to define the project and complete it. Sarah will work with Kam Lau and Anne Ellicott, two other students who are in her advisory group:

Now that Sarah has added Kam and Anne as "Creators" to the project, they are able to participate in the Module definition. (Sarah will also add her teammates to the module as Learners.)

Kam logs into Headrush and finds the new Module on her Dashboard. She then clicks into the module and writes a draft of the Module Summary in the Overview:

Anne, having received a notification that she is part of the Module team, logs in and starts a discussion on Kam's summary:

It's important to note here that all project communications between learners and each other, and between learners and advisors, take place within Headrush. There is no need to communicate in other systems. This helps keep everyone in the same space, and reduce confusion and noise.

Kam, having seen the discussion, makes a reply and 'resolves' the issue by editing her summary. Learners can manage issues and solve problems together, through discussion:

Building group accountability into the project

Meanwhile, Sarah is continuing to define the Module by adding a Driving Question and starting to build out the Task Board with the tasks her team will need to complete.

She can do several things to help her team see who is responsible for what over the course of the project:

  • Create a Column for each teammate to organize the Tasks they are responsible for doing

  • Add the name of the teammate in the title of each Task, for example [Sarah] Create Adobe Illustrator Map File

In this case, since the team is small, Sarah sets up columns for Kam, Anne and herself, and starts moving Tasks into the appropriate columns based on who will be responsible for the work:

She then sets up another column, For Review, which is where her team will move tasks when they are ready for advisor review. In this way, Headrush helps the team create good dynamics. Everyone knows who is responsible for doing what, and where those tasks are in the overall project.

Advisor Review and Module Approval

Now that the Module is fully realized by the Learners as a project, they can submit the whole module for Advisor review.

Monitoring Progress in a Learner-Led Team Module

Once the project is approved, work begins. Throughout the project lifecycle, Learners will submit Evidence to their Tasks, discuss progress in place, and update their collaborators on status and challenges. The Advisor will review evidence, provide feedback and on-going assessment.

Since the whole team is submitting evidence to a module, it becomes more important to know which learner is submitting evidence, and monitor progress across all learners. Learners can both individually and collectively submit evidence to a task. Below, Sarah submits an Illustrator file as evidence on behalf of herself and her teammates:

From the Advisor's point of view, Evidence submitted by individual Learners as well as by Groups is indicated in the Activity Feed:

When doing assessments, the Advisor also sees the collective contributions of all the learners and can provide assessments, reflections, and credits to all learners in one step:

Advisors can also do assessment along the way with Rubrics. (Learn more about setting up Rubrics in Headrush.) This provides a meaningful channel for feedback not only on the products the Learners contribute, but on the process they follow throughout the project:

  • How are the Learners collaborating in their workflow?

  • How are the Learners distributing responsibility and accountability?

Learners can also submit evidence individually. Here, Anne submits evidence to her data collection task. Since she did the work herself, she does not add her collaborators to this submission:

When the Advisor looks at the module Activity, they will see Anne's submitted evidence:

The Advisor can provide individual feedback to a particular Learner in the Assessments, in this case focused on Rubrics:

Completing a Team-led Project

Now that Anne, Kam, and Sarah have advanced their project to a finalized state, it's time to close out the project.

Here, we see the Advisor providing their assessment on the rubric of project collaboration for all Learners at once, since this Rubric can apply to the group and to individuals:

Each team member can provide their reflections on an individual basis. Discussions between the Advisor and each team member on their Evidence are private between the Advisor and the learner. Learner reflections are also kept private between Advisor and Learner. However, we recommend that Advisors discuss and seek collective feedback on the process from the group, where each Learner can see the feedback of the other.

Here Anne updates her Reflections, which are shared privately with the Advisor:

Here the Advisor steps through each Learner and assesses individual learning targets. Note that the Advisor can simply click Next / Previous in the upper right to move easily between Learner assessments.

However, the Advisor will offer a common grade and credits to all Learners at once:

Headrush simplifies collaborative project assessment, giving the Advisor and Learner space for private feedback and sharing Assessments across the group or individual where appropriate.

Common Collaborative Module Questions

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