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This article deals with different strategies for group development in a virtual learning environment (VLE). For this purpose, we sought to investigate the organization and social interactions of students, during group dynamics that occurred in a distance education course. The methodology used in the research was qualitative and quantitative, with descriptive approach, classified as a case study. For data collection, we used the VLE ROODA communication tools (Forum, Contacts and Social Map), the environmental sociometry tool (Social Map), as well as participant observation and questionnaires. Thus, we analyzed the application of three group-formation strategies: random, chosen by the teacher and free choice. Interaction data categorization occurred within the virtual learning environment and was accomplished through the group development stages suggested by McClure. This study allowed us to determine that all three strategies are efficient for distance education, as long as the right time in class for the application of the strategy by the teacher is observed. This study aimed to elucidate the importance of using group work in distance education, especially for integrating students and enabling a greater number of social interactions in the virtual environment. Thus, the results confirm that the use of formation strategies can be effective for Distance Education, since the development of collective activities depends on cohesion and the mediation of conflicts between members of the group.
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