Applying the Open Source Model to GroupWork: Forking, At-Will Engagement, and Collaborative Freedom

Fredrick W. Baker III
Instructional Design and Development, University of South Alabama

In this session, I will draw upon the Open Source Software project model of crowdsourcing to create a framework for making groupwork assignments. This groupwork assignment model is applicable to a wide range of assignment types and disciplines and should prove to be broadly applicable. It utilizes collaborative writing technologies such as Google Drive, and may optionally utilize social media technologies to create collaborative community spaces. I provide recommendations for guidelines and rules that encourage learner freedom and engagement. These technologies and rules combine in the model to allow learners to self-select into groups so they are able to learn valuable lessons about motivation and collaboration. Learners are also able to disengage from their group at will with distinct and intact copies of the assignments. These assignments then diverge after the separation (a process called forking) to better reflect the student’s contribution. Providing the students with this type of control leads to motivated students who are more engaged and are able to learn valuable lessons that are not commonly experienced in standard assignment methods.