Implementing Team-based learning (“TBL”) in an online synchronous environment for a career skills workshop

Brian O ’Dwyer, Commercial Founder and Executive Chairman, CognaLearn



The author developed a series of five workshops to teach: Career Strategy, Pitching, Resume Writing, Networking and Interviewing. The workshops are typically delivered in a face-to-face formation using team-based learning (“TBL”). In one-year master of management programs students have very little time to settle into graduate school before the recruiting process begins. The author wanted to deliver these workshops in an online format before students arrived on campus.


A workshop delivered with TBL face-to-face could be delivered effectively in an online format.


Accepted students at Duke University ’s Fuqua School of Business were invited to participate in the online career skills workshop. Students answered questions during registration which was used to pre-assign teams. The workshop was conducted using the web conferencing tool. It began with an overview delivered using Microsoft PowerPoint. This was followed by an Individual Readiness Assurance Test (“IRAT”), Team Readiness Assurance Test (“TRAT”), Clarifications and Application Exercises which were delivered using the online TBL tool. Teams were broken out into separate web conference rooms during the TRAT and Application Exercises.


Post-event learner surveys showed that 88% of learners would recommend the workshop or a 4.4 rating on a 5.0 scale. This compares to a face-to-face version of a similar workshop which had a 100% recommendation rate with a 4.8 rating on a 5.0 scale. An asynchronous (non-TBL) online version of the workshop is available using and has been rated 4.1 on a scale of 5.0. Of the 40 learners that registered for the course only 20 students participated and 13 completed the feedback survey.


It is possible to conduct a workshop using TBL in an online synchronous format. However, the sample size is small and more work could be done to understand the effectiveness of online TBL.

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