Solutions Lab 24: Turning Break-Out Rooms into Effective Collaborative Work Spaces

Many STEMM courses include an opportunity for students to work together in small teams to produce, deliver and peer-assess a presentation. However, finding an effective online space for groups to work in is not easy, especially if the activity is part of a longer live timetabled session. In Collaborate Ultra or MSTeams, the obvious approach is to set up breakout rooms; but, as many of us are discovering, breakout rooms can be awkward to facilitate, especially when you need groups to share their work with the larger cohort. With repeated switches between the main room and breakout spaces, students can feel disembodied and confused – not surprising then that it is rarely seen as an effective collaborative workspace!

In this session, Nick Bardell (School of Engineering) demonstrated how he has successfully managed to run student presentation workshops in Collaborate Ultra. Working in small teams, students are tasked with producing and delivering a live, online presentation using the video collaboration tool Flipgrid. The videos are then shared with the whole cohort and students are encouraged to vote and comment on each other’s work. Nick shares some examples of the students’ work, showing how they have quickly adapted to the tools to produce high quality, creative video presentations. He reflected on the benefits to their professional development, embedding contemporary skills (digital storytelling, digital literacy, online communication and collaborative problem solving) in the curriculum.

The video below is an edited version of Nick’s session, questions and answers and technology glitches removed.

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Similar Solutions Lab Sessions

Try out Flipgrid

There is a live Flipgrid which staff can contribute to on the SISTER post Student Stories Episode 2. Record a short (2 mins max) video of yourself talking about your best and/or worse experience of engaging students online – upload it and enjoy watching other people’s contributions!


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