Faculty Spotlight: Sharon McKechnie – Enhancing Collaboration with Groups

Project Groups

The group names chosen by Prof. McKechnie’s students.

Instructor: Sharon McKechnie, PhD, Assistant Professor of Management & Economics

Course: MGMT 2307 Organizational Behavior

About the Project: In MGMT 2307, over the course the semester students complete a group research project intended to allow them to explore an organizational behavior topic in-depth. Prof. McKechnie has structured the assignment so that it additionally “presents them with an opportunity to analyze both their own and others’ group behavior.” Unfortunately, students in the past have made complaints about “the difficulty they have coordinating schedules to be able to work together” as many students in the class live off-campus, and the students have many different obligations to juggle. To address this problem, Prof. McKechnie decided to offer collaborative tools for her students to work together online using the Student Groups feature of ECLearn.

Goals: The aim for this project was to provide students with online tools that would facilitate their group work. Specifically, it would “be highly beneficial to the students to have e-collaboration tools for virtual meetings, sharing research materials and co-writing.” Students could pick and choose which tools they would use, if any, and had the option to use more traditional in-person methods of collaboration for their project if they chose. In this way the students were able to complete the project through a process of their own design and that met their own needs. This gave them exposure to using online tools in collaborative work and experiencing “hybrid” environments, an increasingly common reality in organizations.

Technology Requirements: This project uses the Groups feature in ECLearn. Commonly used tools included Collaborations, Announcements, the Calendar, and Files. For more information on Student Groups check out the Canvas Guides: http://guides.instructure.com/s/2204/m/4152/l/55483-what-are-student-groups.

Outcome: Because of the enhanced collaboration capable through these tools, the quality of the group projects has increased over past semesters. Prof. McKechnie remarked that “some of the groups are using the online collaboration tools more than others.  However, the majority of groups are using the tools and their feedback has been very positive so far.” Students have used the tools in unexpected ways, finding uses that fit their unique needs and preferred methods of organizing their project work. Ultimately, Prof. McKechnie notes, “The key to all technology is that it must work with the needs/wants of the user and so far I feel the range and flexibility of the tools available has improved the experience of the students.”

Tool Recommendations Handout:

Online Collaboration Using ECLearn (pdf version)

Online Collaboration Using ECLearn2

The handout given to students on using the tools offered through Groups

 

Interested in using Student Groups in your courses? Contact ATIG with questions. You can access a Group site by clicking on the group name in the View Student Groups section of People.

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One Response to Faculty Spotlight: Sharon McKechnie – Enhancing Collaboration with Groups

  1. Interested in using Student Groups in your courses? Contact ATIG with questions. You can access a Group site by clicking on the group name in the View Student Groups section of People.

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