Group vs. Individual Participation

One of my favorite courses I helped redesign for delivery in a web-conference is a workflow productivity course. During this highly interactive five-hour session, participants learn a new way of organizing to-do lists, emails and paper files. Although all participants are supposed to participate from their desk, in the most recent delivery a small group participated with laptops from a conference room. This was an unplanned twist in the delivery model, but an exception was allowed because we didn’t have time to move the group back to their desks.

A very interesting group dynamic formed and I learned a great lesson – a mixed audience of individuals participating from their desks plus a group participating from a room may spell trouble. The solo participants were able to connect better with the instructor and other solo participants than the group, and consequently were able to work through the material better. At first I thought the small group would benefit from being together to help each other and exchange ideas, the small group began forming a clique, alienating the rest of the participants. Next time everyone will participate from their desks and we’ll try to leave those high school clique-forming tendencies to the high schoolers!