Student Organization for Student Success

When an online learning community develops, it supports students’ ability to figure things out for themselves. Doing this can increase the participation of students, bring in more diversity, break barriers for contributions, and encourage more ownership of learning. Faculty save time when students are empowered to take responsibility for their learning. Thinking about the options for interaction and building that community early in the design process will help for a smoother course development.

How to Plan Student Organization in Online Learning

In the course design process, take time to consider how those important connections among students and between you and students will take place. If necessary, refer to the ideas in this article on Interactivity In Online Learning. Some activities may require the use of additional technology or even just different functions and settings within the learning management system (LMS). Remember that these are merely tools to carry out an activity, and introducing too many new tools can be a distraction to learning. In addition, there are different factors to consider for groups and for individual assignments. Try these steps to approach this part of the course design:

  1. Ask yourself the following:

    1. What structures or activities will be used? For example, discussion boards, synchronous meetings, study groups, collaborative writing assignments, group projects or presentations, peer reviews, etc.

    2. Will students carry out the tasks in groups? If so, how many groups? How many students will be in each group? Will students form their own groups or be assigned? 

    3. What technologies are needed to complete the tasks involved in the activity? For example, group functions, whole class discussions, Zoom, Flip, Google Docs, wiki, blog, etc.

  2. List the activities, purpose and desired outcome for the activity, and the tools needed to complete related tasks.

  3. Review the list, asking:

    1. Is there enough variety of engagement?

    2. Are there too many tools that could distract from learning?

    3. Are the methods accessible?

    4. Do the methods encourage inclusivity?

  4. Make changes and adjustments to achieve the desired balance for your course.

Example Student Organization Plan

Activity & Purpose

Individual, Group, or Whole Class

Tools or Technology Needs

Weekly Quizzes on Readings and Multimedia learning materials - reinforce concepts, check for understanding


Quizzes: unlimited attempts

Reflection journals - identify aspects of the personal learning experience 


Google Docs: instructions in settings to limit access to anyone except writer and instructor.

Final Project - Create project demonstrating mastery of Course Learning Outcome 3

Groups, 4 members

Groups for optional workspace (can use their own tools if agreed on by whole group) - Activity discussion forum, wiki, and file sharing

Weekly Discussions - reinforce concepts

Whole Class

Discussion forums

Writing assignments (3 papers) - assessment/practice of skills


Peer evaluation of drafts (writing assignments)

Pairs (change w/ each assignment) but carried out with whole-class access

Course Blog

Related Information

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