a) To work in heterogeneous groups
We have to organize the classroom for participants to work in heterogeneous groups; with people from different cultures, age, and levels of knowledge in every group. The more diversity there is in a group, more diverse the interactions will be and hence everyone in the group will also learn more than if they only interacted with people with the same level.
Therefore, to begin with, the teacher divides the class in small heterogeneous groups of about 5-6 participants, although the number of participants in a group depends on the number of students there are in class. The most important, if there is no diversity of cultures and ages in a specific course, is to ensure that there are at least people with different levels in every group. When working with computers, for example, instead of having one computer for every participant, two people can work together with the same one and this way we make sure that they interact when solving a task. This is important in ICT courses because in a class there are many people who already know how to use some applications because of their past experiences, but still have some doubts or don’t know about all the functions the application can have.
This is the case of text processors, for example; some participants have written documents before, but they are not familiar with more advanced functions such as how to create an index automatically or how to use different font styles. If they are grouped with others who have very basic or no knowledge of text processors, they can help them understand it better and while they do so, they also review what they already know, because it is when we are able to explain what we know that we consolidate our knowledge and prove that we really understand it. Moreover, while they review all the options text processors have, they discover new aspects together.
b) How to plan the sessions
The teacher prepares the activities beforehand, then meets with the volunteers and explains the activities to them so they can help better during the interactions. It is important that the volunteers know what their role is: to facilitate interactions between participants. When explaining the activities to them before class, it is a good moment to remind them, also reminding this from time to time when explaining the activities before class can be convenient.
After the class, the ideal is that the teacher gets together with the volunteers in order to share impressions about the development of the class, because they might have been able to observe more details since they are the ones specifically in charge of facilitating interactions in every group.