How do I redesign a small group activity for online?

by | Aug 19, 2020 | Online Training

You have a small group activity as part of your in-person program. Participants get into groups and discuss a topic and flip chart their answers. You ask each group to report back to the larger group and lead a discussion to identify themes and learnings.

How do you replicate a group activity in an online environment?

This is how I approach redesigning in-person group work for online.

1. Use an online platform that has breakout rooms.

2. Introduce and use a slide to clearly explain the activity.

Note: In Zoom, the slides you share in the main room cannot be seen in breakout rooms. Show the activity slide in the main room and then provide the activity details in another format for participants to refer to (e.g., Broadcast messages or Participant Workbook).


3. Ask one person in the breakout room to be the scribe – like you would do in an in-person session.

4. Use technology that supports the ideas the group is capturing. For example:

  • If the ideas are text-based, consider chat in the breakouts.
  • If the ideas are more visual or reflect a process, use share screen to access a whiteboard.

5. Ask the scribes to save the group’s work and be prepared to report back.

  • If the group used chat, have the scribe select all of the chat and copy it.
  • If the group used a whiteboard, ask the scribe to save it to their desktop for sharing later.  

6. Debrief the discussion as a large group by asking the scribes from each group to report back.

  • If the scribe saved chat, ask them to paste it into the main chat window when prompted.
  • If the scribed saved a whiteboard, invite them to share their screen and navigate to the whiteboard file saved to their system.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • For chat in the breakout room, consider asking only the scribe to type what group discusses. It will result in a cleaner summary to paste into the large group chat for the debrief.
  • For chat in the main session, ask your producer to type the debrief question in chat in caps then have the scribe paste the group’s responses. This will make for easier editing if you plan on sharing it with participants after the session.
  • I often find whiteboard clunky and a bit awkward. Consider using a third-party collaboration tool like Miro or Mural.

I hope you find this approach helpful!

Curious to learn more?


Online learning is here to stay. If you need to redesign an existing course for online delivery and need help, check out my five-module program.

Here are some other recent blog posts I’ve written related to online design and delivery.

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