OER4Schools/3.4 Group work with ICT/pv

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OER4S |title=3.4 Group work with ICT (participants version) |session=7.4

Learning intentions and objectives.
In this session you will learn about:

  • seating arrangements
  • sharing computers
  • the role of non-ICT resources

Success criteria.
To meet the learning intentions you will:

ICT components.
The ICT components you will focus on are


This is a spare session - designate it as such, and put it somewhere.

See other pages with 'To Do's.

1 Review of homework




2 Groupwork with computers: Seating arrangements

Children in a computer lab working in booths
Interaction around a table

Activity icon.png Whole group discussion (10 min) on computer lab layout. Read the following background text, and discuss any issues that arise.

Background reading

We now consider the role of computers in group work. Mobile computing technologies (such as netbooks or tablets) are very versatile and can be used as and when needed. By contrast, computer labs are now becoming outdated in schools as they remove technology from subject teaching and learning and from the normal classroom environment and teaching aids. Many do not even have a blackboard. Some of the issues are:

  • Moving a class into the computer room is disruptive to teaching (especially in primary)
  • Computer labs can enforce a rigid seating pattern if benches are fixed.
    • If you have a computer lab with desktop machines, can it be re-arranged to support groupwork?
    • If machines are located around the perimeter (learners have backs to each other and teacher), or in rows, this is not conducive to collaborative learning.
  • Some computer rooms even partition off machines so learners cannot interact

The seating arrangement. Sometimes labs are arranged in a certain way, because of certain concerns. For instance, if the school administration is worried about off-task behaviour, computers are arranged in rows. However, this isn’t a good solution, as it interferes with groupwork. Instead, if a teacher is worried about off-task behaviour, they can cruise around the room!

Experience shows that an island arrangement works best, ideally large hexagonal tables, but large round or square tables are fine too.


Activity icon.png Individual activity (5 min): Drawing a computer lab. Draw a sketch to show how you would arrange computers among groups.

3 Groupwork with computers: Sharing resources across groups

Many students trying to use one netbook
Interaction around a tablet

Activity icon.png Reading (2 min)'. Read the following.

Background reading

Access to computers: “We need more computers." Many schools don’t have access to computers at all, but where schools do have access, it is often felt that there are not enough computers. How many computers would a school need? While some might say that one computer per child, or perhaps one computer per two children would be ideal, for many schools (and classrooms) this is unrealistic. In general, when you have access to computers, you should therefore make sure that the computers are used in the best way possible in your context. We now consider how to make best use of whatever computers are available during group work.

Activity icon.png Pair work (5 min) on sharing computers.. Spend 5 minutes as pairs, considering the following scenario: You have 60 children in your class, and 10 computers. How would you arrange the groups, how would you distribute the computers, how would you structure the lesson?

To help with this, consider the following questions:

  • In devising groupings consider how many children can see the screen and get hands-on experience.
  • If you only have a few computers, it is better to operate a carousel so everyone gets a chance?

Activity icon.png Presentation and discussion (10 min). Go round all the pairs, who very briefly present their suggestions. Discuss the various outcomes. What different proposals are there?


Here are two more pictures you can consider, regarding how children are sitting around a computer: In one picture, the screen us upright, and all the pupils are squeezing in behind. In the other picture, the screen is flat, allowing the children to sit around the screen.

Group-work-behind-computer.jpg Group-work-around-computer.jpg

4 Groupwork with computers: Sharing resources within groups

Having considered how computers are distributed among groups, we now consider how the computer can be shared equally within groups.

Activity icon.png Pair work (5 min).. In pairs, consider the following questions:

  • What would you do if there are some students who always control the computer, while other group members never get to use it?
  • Would you say that it is sensible to mix computer-literate pupils with novices?
  • How will you ensure they help rather than dominate their peers?

Activity icon.png Discussion (10 min). Discuss the outcomes of your reflection as a whole class.


5 Groupwork with computers: The role of non-ICT resources

Activity icon.png Pair work (5 min). In pairs, discuss the role of mini-blackboards in groupwork with and without computers. How can mini-blackboards support interactive teaching? How can mini-blackboards support groupwork with computers? What other non-ICT resources can you think of, which can be used with computers? How?


Activity icon.png Discussion (10 min). Discuss the outcomes of your reflection as a whole class.

6 Planning a lesson using groupwork and ICT

Activity icon.png Plan a lesson in year groups (11 min). Plan a lesson together in year groups (i.e. all grade 4 teachers plan a lesson for grade 4 together; grade 5 teachers together for grade 5; etc).

  • Discuss with your colleagues (from the same grade) which topics you have coming up next week, and whether some of these topics would work particularly well with groupwork and ICT.
  • Make active use of the computers in the lab to identify digital resources together.
  • Devise an open activity where groups have a shared goal and where outcomes may differ between groups, for a lesson you are teaching next week.
    • Consider: How will you ensure everyone participates and everyone learns? How will you stretch all learners?
    • What will you say to the groups to ensure this? (Make a note in your lesson template.)
    • Explicitly ask groups to make sure everyone understands the new concept or process; make it their responsibility to support each other and check this is happening.
  • Consider whether you can assign different roles within the group.
  • Consider how the computers will be swapped between groups, and between pupiles within a group, to ensure that there is effective access for everybody.

7 Follow-up activities

Activity icon.png Agreeing follow-up activities (5 min).

Try out your groupwork with ICT. As the week progresses, the teachers within each grade should share the experiences. That is to say, if you are the first teacher to teach this lesson, meet your colleagues afterwards, and discuss with them how it went, and what improvements could be made.

As you teach the lesson remember to think about your own role in the classroom; it is not just to monitor progress but also to interact with pupils, assess their understanding, offer support and help move their thinking forward. Sometimes a group will even need you to sit with them and offer intensive support to progress. Think about how you can identify this need?

During the lessons, remember to encourage groups to let everybody within the group have a go at using the ICT!

Video some of the groupwork if you can (ideally a colleague can do this for you so they can capture you as well as the pupils) and upload it to the server.