Learning in Groups: A Handbook for Face-to-Face and Online Environments

Learning in Groups: A Handbook for Face-to-Face and Online Environments

Learning in Groups: A Handbook for Face-to-Face and Online Environments

Learning in Groups: A Handbook for Face-to-Face and Online Environments


Learning in groups, rather than in formal lectures or presentations, allows students to have greater scope to negotiate meaning and express themselves and their own ideas. It also helps them to establish far more effective releationships, not only with their tutors and trainers but with each other. Yet many tutors and trainers find the leadership role required when working in groups difficult to perform satisfactorily and revert to their traditional role as subject expert and prime talker.

This handbook is a truly comprehensive guide for anyone involved in groupwork, containing advice and practical exercises to develop group learning skills for both learners and tutors. This new edition has been thoroughly updated, containing valuable new material throughout on group learning and collaborating online, action research and the role of reflection and emotional intelligence.


Since the first edition of this book appeared some 20 years ago a vast number of changes have taken place both in the principles of learning groups, in the techniques and technologies which support them, and in the many ways to lead them. So for this edition Gilly Salmon, whose books E-Tivities and E-Moderating have a strong focus on online group learning, has joined me as co-author. We have chosen not to write separate chapters about on and offline group work but rather to demonstrate how transferable so many of the principles and practice are by interweaving the two modalities and where appropriate, drawing comparisons.

This edition also includes several structural changes as well as updating, though it retains a similar basic structure and content to previous editions. Examples of more recent theory and practice in groups, both face-to-face and online, have been incorporated; exercises based on the text appear in the Appendix. New material on the fast-growing phenomenon of online learning groups, both synchronous and asynchronous and whether in its own right or as part of a blended course, has been incorporated where appropriate. However, since there is constant overlap between underlying theories and processes in such groups and in traditional face-to-face ones, it will serve little purpose constantly to remind readers that such and such applies equally to the online world, where, mutatis mutandis, it should be obvious with a little thought. The important difference, however, between the two modes is that the written word replaces speech and visual cues particularly in asynchronous online group interaction and leaves an audit trail or record of proceedings. And the time delay in asynchronous online group work which can sometimes run over a period of days or even weeks and across time zones is not usually conducive to instant feedback; but it does have the advantage of offering more time for reflection both in action and on action, particularly given the record of proceedings. (For a fuller treatment of working with groups online, see Salmon 2002 and 2004.)

We think of our intended readership as academics, teachers, instructors, tutors, trainers, moderators, student teachers, course designers, in fact anyone who is interested in the understanding and development of group learning and their own part in it.

David Jaques and Gilly Salmon Oxford and Leicester 2006 . . .

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